coworker is secretly taking photos of dress code violations, manager misses early-morning meetings, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker is secretly taking photos of dress code violations

Today at work I spotted a senior colleague taking covert photos of young female staff members in the workplace cafeteria. Her pictures were taken from the back, waist down, and I believe she’s taking them to illustrate violations of our ambiguous dress code (where is mid-thigh exactly, anyways?).

I’m skeeved out my this. I suppose the women are in public, wearing clothes they chose to put on, and might not have a legal expectation of privacy … but I still feel really icky by her actions. I wouldn’t want her to have a covert picture of my backside, and I doubt any of my young colleagues do either.

The senior colleague is very close with the (male) business owner. I’m willing to bet he is aware that she is taking these pictures. He might have even requested that she do so in preparation for a management meeting on our need for a less-ambiguous dress code. It’s been a topic of conversation.

Am I right to think that these pictures are inappropriate? If so, how can I best articulate the problem to our boss, or call out my colleague next time I catch her taking these photos?

Yeah, that’s really inappropriate. Even assuming she’s doing it for the reasons you suspect and not as some sort of predatory, voyeuristic thing, it’s not okay to covertly take photos of people’s butts. At all. And the photos happen to be all of young women? Even if that’s because they’re the only ones routinely violating the dress code, that adds an additional layer of ick (not that one was needed).

Definitely talk to someone about it, and say something like this: “I think we could get into a lot of trouble covertly taking photos of people’s backsides without their permission, and that people are going to feel really creeped out when they find out this happened.” You could add, “Think about if a man were doing this — it would feel really off, no?” (Alternately, if you spot her in the moment again, feel free to have a natural reaction like, “Whoa — what are you doing? You can’t do that!”)

2. My manager misses meetings because she schedules them too early

My manager is amazing and someone I really look up to. I started in this role mid last year and she has been my biggest supporter throughout my time here.

However, I work in Europe and she works in the U.S. so there is a six-hour time difference between us. Both of us are flexible with our time so we can get around out time difference pretty well. However, since the beginning of my time here, she seems to have a habit of scheduling our one-to-one meetings very early in the morning and often misses them because she sleeps through them. This is an inconvenience because I try to move to a room for our meetings which we need to book beforehand, and then my planned work for the day changes order.

Is there a tactful way for me to ask that she schedules later meetings? There have been other instances where she has scheduled an early meeting with upper management and on those occasions (only twice) I have woken her up with an excuse of asking her a question about the meeting beforehand. Obviously I can’t do this weekly. Is there another way or is it something I need to just live with?

You can say something! The best way to do it is to just observe that the time doesn’t seem to work well for her (without commenting on the reasons) and ask about switching to one that would work better. For example: “I’ve noticed that setting our meetings for (time) isn’t working well with your schedule, which I totally understand. What do you think about moving them to X or Y and seeing if that works better?” If your sense is that she’ll assure you she can make it work, replace that last sentence with the slightly more assertive “I propose we move them to X instead — would that work on your end?”

And if she insists the current time is no problem, then wait a few more weeks and if it keeps happening, at that point you can say, “I really want to make sure we get to meet regularly. Can we change this to a time that will work better? Maybe X or Y?”

For meetings other than your one-on-ones, the next time she proposes an early morning start time, try saying, “I know that’s ridiculously early for you and it’s crazy to have you wake up that early — what about X or Y instead?”

3. Should my resume mention my GPA and that I graduated in three years?

I received my bachelor’s degree in May 2016, and am currently finishing up my first year of grad school in a subject I absolutely love.

I was able to finish my undergrad in three years due to a variety of factors — mainly a combination of AP credit, extra units nearly every semester, and the fact that my major advisor REALLY liked me and agreed to pull a few strings on my behalf. I also graduated cum laude and made honor roll every semester, even with the extra units. I’m not gonna lie, I’m proud of myself!

Would it be okay to mention my early graduation and/or high GPA in a resume or cover letter? That is, would it mean anything to a hiring manager? On the one hand, I feel like it says a lot about my work ethic, but on the other hand it doesn’t feel quite right to me.

Also: if it does matter, will that change once I have my master’s? (In other words, would it be the equivalent of mentioning your high school diploma on a resume when you’ve already been to college?) If it makes any difference, almost all jobs in the field I’m hoping to break into require at least a master’s.

You can put your GPA on your resume for a couple more years if you really want to — but not longer than that, since after that work world accomplishments will matter more. GPA is a sort of proxy for “smart and driven,” but once it’s more than a few years old, hiring managers will care much more about seeing what accomplishments those smarts and drive have led to. (There are a couple of fields that are exceptions to this and still want to see GPA, like law.)

The same thing applies to graduating in three years. You could have a bullet point on your resume noting that now, but it should expire off of there pretty soon, so that your focus becomes more about what you’ve done professionally. (And I wouldn’t even include it now if you have stronger things to note.)

4. Manager won’t reimburse conference travel as promised

I am a trainee in a large organization. When I interviewed for this training position, I asked about professional development and was told they would support one conference per year. When I actually started, I was informed that the reimbursement was from my individual managers rather than the organization itself — it seems that the managers are assigned weekend call once a month, but they don’t want to do it so they have the trainees take call and in return the managers split the cost of one conference/trainee. I was miffed at the misrepresentation but agreed.

Last year’s conference reimbursement was pretty smooth; I had to remind one person but eventually got checks. This year, after I copied and sent in my receipts, one of the managers decided she no longer wanted to be part of this scheme because it’s unethical. She said the organization is working on setting up a formal reimbursement program for trainees and that I should submit through that. There is no timeframe as to when this will be up and running, but the organization is bureaucratic and I doubt it will be ready before my training program ends next month. Additionally, the reimbursement would be limited to $1,000. These are week-long conferences in expensive cities; between flight, registration, and Airbnb, I spent almost double that this year.

I agree with my manager that professional development should be reimbursed by the organization, not individuals. But I’m annoyed that this is coming up after the fact, especially because I did the weekend calls as originally agreed. I’m also concerned that none of this will be ready before I leave. How can I approach my managers about this without alienating them or seeming greedy for their money?

Yeah, that’s not okay. You attended the conference because they’d told you that it would be reimbursed; the agreement was that you wouldn’t be using your own money for it.

Try saying this: “I understand the concerns about how this has been set-up and why people want to change it. But meanwhile, I attended a conference with the agreement that I wouldn’t be personally responsible for the costs, and I do need that reimbursement. How do I make sure that happens in the next few weeks so that I’m not carrying these charges on my credit card?”

If necessary, you can also say, “Our agreement was that I’d cover a weekend on call in exchange for this, and I did that. I wouldn’t have attended this conference if I’d been told it would be at my own expense; I attended because of our agreement that my costs would be covered. I can’t afford for that to be changed after the fact, so how can I get this resolved?”

It’s not greedy to ask to be reimbursed for business expenses that you were promised. And it’s perfectly reasonable and professional to lay out the situation in this kind of language.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Listing reasons for leaving on your resume

I’ve just heard about one the strangest — I think — resume things. I have a friend who is currently in the hunt. I’ve known him for about seven years, and in that time he’s had around seven jobs. Tonight we were talking about his hunt, and he told me that on several entries on his resume he bullet points his reason for leaving. Is this a thing? Have I missed some trend in resume writing? I guess it’s a proactive way for someone who seems to be a job hopper to explain why he’s left jobs, but it also just seems weird.

It’s not really a thing. Some people put information on their resumes that doesn’t belong there because they’ve noticed that application forms sometimes ask for it — and so they think it should be on their resumes too. That’s why you sometimes see resumes where the info for each job includes things like the manager’s name (and sometimes even the manager’s phone numbers), number of hours worked per week, salary, and, yes, reason for leaving. None of that is anything that belongs on a resume.

That said, if you have a work history that will look bad without explanation — like your friend’s — it can make sense to include the reason for leaving, on the theory that mildly violating resume conventions is way better than just presenting no context for an erratic work history. Someone who looks really job-hoppery can look different if it’s clear that their short stays all happened for reasons out of their control (lay-offs, short-term contacts, etc.).

{ 502 comments… read them below }

  1. LouiseM*

    #1: I understand the logic of using “we” in some of these scripts (that it sounds collaborative rather than adversarial), but I really don’t think it works in this case. “We” are not taking pictures of anyone’s backside–just this one nutty coworker is. Instead of being indirect about it, I’d just ask (in a shocked, disgusted tone of voice), “Did you just take a picture of that woman’s backside? Why would you do that?” If she acts like she’s in the right, then you can point out how inappropriate it is and why.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I agree with calling out the behavior bluntly and in an incredulous (WTF) tone. It’s jaw-droppingly inappropriate for the coworker to be taking those photos, and even the most benign explanation for her actions is repugnant. The women being in public doesn’t matter—the photos are still not ok.

      And if she’s truly only photographing young women (blurgghh), then she’s also treating people differently on the basis of sex/gender in a way that could intimidate or otherwise feel harassing to those women and others. It’s certainly squicking OP#1 out, which means it’s already changing OP’s experience/feelings about the workplace.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Yes, if the opportunity arises, I see this as a good time to deploy the honesty and lack of filter of a small child, loudly: “oh my god, did you just take a photo of that person’s bum?!” Allowing a hint of an opening for her to say “oh no how awful I was just snapping that disgusting skirting board because I need to have a word with the cleaners” but then if she admits it or dissembles, “why the heck are you doing that?!” If she’s embarrassed then it might make her realise this is not ok with extra bonus of the person photographed possibly hearing.

        1. Nita*

          I love that! This is really the most appropriate response to an insane and inappropriate behavior.

        2. CynicallySweet7*

          Not sure why buy I’m really enjoying the phrase “oh my god, did you just take a photo of that person’s bum?!” But that might just be the tone I heard it in in my head

      2. Nanani*

        THIS. Also isn’t it funny how some things are only dress code issues when young women do them? Not accusing the LW’s workplace of anything but it’s definitely a pattern in the world.

        1. Les*

          Funny is one way of putting it. F–king infuriating is another. You are very correct about this.

      3. Bostonian*

        “nd even the most benign explanation for her actions is repugnant”

        So much this. “Oh, I was only going to publicly shame them at an important meeting about dress code.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That language was intended for reporting it to someone else (and it sounds like that someone else may have asked the coworker to do this!), not for confronting the coworker in the moment. I’ll add language to make that clearer.

    3. Sami*

      That’s a level of creepy that I’d want to be no part of. Surely there are anonymous examples the boss can use (still creepy) if that’s why the photos are being taken.
      If I walked into a meeting, and found out it was about the dress code and there were actual pictures of me, I’d be working on my resume immediately.

      1. Mookie*

        Surely there are anonymous examples the boss can use (still creepy) if that’s why the photos are being taken.

        Yes. Many use the internet solely for this purpose. There is no lack of photographs of young women’s clothed butts and thighs on the internet.

        This person and anyone enabling her is a creep. If they don’t care for that label, they can stop creep-shotting for “business” and “dress code compliance” reasons.

      2. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        If I walked into a meeting to be informed that somebody was taking photos of my backside on behalf of the business, I’d be speaking to my lawyer.

      3. Myrin*

        And it doesn’t even have to be creepy at all! We’ve talked here before about how dresscodes can be easily understood when one has a visual example of what any given company means by nebulous terms such as “business casual”, and I’m sure companies who use a visual manual don’t use clandestinely taken creepshots for that purpose but rather pictures of models from catalogues or fashion websites or what-have-you; it’s not like surreptitiously taking photos of your volunteers’ behinds during lunch time is the only (or even easist!) way to ever get any visuals for what not to wear.

        1. Liane*

          AND, I gather from AAM, the best, most effective way to deal with dress code violations of any sort* is to have a private, respectful talk with the violator. Works for all, from “I’m sure you have no idea but the waistband gaps badly when you bend over/the lighting makes that blouse see-through” to “Remember, since the rebranding, we can’t wear green polos.” **

          *not that I believe it’s the “real” purpose of these photos
          **Yes, I have read dress codes with similar clauses

          1. Antilles*

            the best, most effective way to deal with dress code violations of any sort is to have a private, respectful talk with the violator.
            Primarily because the alternative to one-on-one discussions is to send a generic company-wide email reminder or policy change. Which is less awkward, but also pretty useless, because someone who’s unknowingly violating the dress code isn’t likely to realize that the email was targeted specifically at them – obviously, if I’d realized this waistband gaps badly, I wouldn’t be wearing it.

          2. Specialk9*

            Yeah, it means awkward conversations between a manager and the person, not photos of offenders!

            I was a young PM on a project, with a good worker who was way too casual in her dress. The office was business casual, but trending more formal, towards blazers and suits. This worker lived for yoga and wore yoga and hiking attire (think boho skirts and dresses, but short, not long peasant). Mid 50s maybe, so not making a newbie mistake, and not seeming to be trying to be super sexy/revealing, but still very short. Someone complained that she bent over at the copier and they saw her underwear.

            I put together a dress code that had more detail (not a problem I had encountered before, but it seemed fair) and I tried to make it as gender-neutral as I could, and sent it to the team.

            Then, with another complaint, I had to talk with her. She basically indicated that she would leave over the issue.

            I talked to her client lead – do you actually care? No? Ok, then I’m going to ignore this. I did ask her to make sure her underwear was covered at least, and left it at that.

            So… Basically she got a 1-person exemption and I went back to my main job.

            I’m SO THANKFUL that hasn’t come up again! It was so awkward.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I have to say, if I were another employee and watched that happen, I’d have been frustrated as hell to see someone get a 1-person exemption like that, and it would have badly eroded my trust in you as a manager. I really feel like the correct response to “If you require me to abide by the same policy as everyone else, I will leave” is “Well, I’m sorry to hear that. When is your last day going to be?” rather than “Okay, fine, I guess you can keep violating the policy, just make sure your underwear is covered(!)”.

              I’m sure that’s a really awkward conversation to have to have, but backing down doesn’t strike me as being the best way to handle it. Out of curiosity, would you do the same still if it happened again now?

              1. Specialk9*

                Those are so good points. I’ve run it through my head since then.

                Part of why I backed down was that I sensed the complaints were part of some interpersonal thing. Her first reaction was ‘oh, was it X who complained?’ (Uh, yeah, it was totally him.)

                But also, it was a rare skillset, and required a very high security clearance, and the client didn’t seem to care at all. And she was one of the few women of color in our office, and had over a decade of very competent tenure in the role so it would have looked like discrimination. (The person complaining was a man of color, but I’m not.)

                I think I made the right call in not losing her, and not caring too much about the letter of the law.

                Where I think I screwed up was in jumping too fast with the dress code. I should have checked with the client lead, and then with the overarching client contracting officer to see if it was even remotely a problem. I should have asked discreetly if there was a beef between those two. I should have been more suspicious of complaints coming from one person.

                I think I was trying so hard to be this upright pillar of professionalism, esp since I was more than a little over my head, that I wasn’t doing my due diligence, or being aware enough of office and interpersonal dynamics.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Corrections: I’ve run it through my head a bunch since that time. And she was one of the few women of color in a non-admin role.

                2. AKchic*

                  I can respect *all* of this line of thinking.

                  At my last job, we had a pretty “business casual” dress code. Until we went in for a new accreditation. Then my boss decided we needed to be more formal, without actually changing the official dress code and without actually *saying* so.
                  We also had some program assistants (like me) who had some very different ideas of what “business casual” meant. I swear, I thought all of administration was going to explode in dealing with the Fashion Wars during 2012-2013.
                  First my boss wanted all women to “cover up” more. To him, we were all showing too much cleavage. Except… none of us were. We were all just extremely busty and that “bothered” him (oh, the stories I could tell). As our CEO (a fellow extremely busty woman) quipped to me “I could wear a turtleneck and still show too much cleavage” (Oh, I can relate, dear lady, I can relate). Then he wanted to dictate that we could not wear heels of a certain height (supposedly for our “safety”) and skirts above our knees (again, for “safety” since we worked with a specific population that had subpopulations). He wanted to get rid of jeans (oh no, that wasn’t happening). He wanted to get rid of sneakers (again, not happening).
                  At the same time, we had a woman who decided that because she modeled as a child, she could wear whatever she wanted. Yoga pants were her go-to. And either flip-flops or those fun toe-shoe things that I never did catch the name of. Some days she’d wear tube top-styled maxi dresses, which would have been lovely if she’d have worn a cardigan or a blazer, but no – completely bare shoulders in an office and then complained she was cold and wanted to turn the heat up (no, it was hot). She was actually doing some shady (read: illegal) things and was terminated and we hired a young girl who had a more Viking/bohemian style of dress that flummoxed more of the staff. Mismatched shoes, warrior headbands/bandanas, oddly-patterned pants that would have looked great if paired with a solid blouse and blazer, but no – a flannel.
                  This one would go out for a 9am smoke break and not show back up until 10:45. Then leave at 11:30 for her lunch and come back at 1:30. She’d disappear at 2 for another smoke break and we’d not see her again until 3. She’d need another smoke break at 3:30 and be back in around 4:15, then watch the clock for the last 15-20 minutes, asking if one of us could ask the bosses if we could leave early. I don’t think she ever finished a single task in the 4 months she was with us.

                  That new unofficial dress code my then-boss wanted to implement without actually going through the proper channels to get approved? He ended up getting fired before he ever took a single real step to getting the P&P drafted, 2 years after he came up with the hair-brained idea.

                3. Michaela Westen*

                  AKChic, I want to respond and don’t know where to start.
                  All your women are busty? From a similar gene pool? I’m the tall skinny type and *always* wanted some curves. This “bothered” your boss? Hmmm, my experience with men who are “bothered” by normal human females is it’s never good!
                  I’ll never feel like a slacker again after the description of your young hire.
                  SpecialK9, how does a 50-something woman not know to not show her underwear at work??? Yikes…

                4. GlitsyGus*

                  AKchic, ah yes the “That blouse is too provocative. Your shirts should be more conservative like Susan’s over there.” “Really? It’s the exact same blouse, we just have different boobs” conundrum. That is a fun one.

        2. Xarcady*

          Yes, at my retail job the dress code is accompanied by stock photos of both “do” and “don’t do” clothing with a generic sales associate name tag very badly photoshopped on to the outfit. The pictures are a bit cheesy, but they do make it very clear what can and can’t be worn.

          The company has a few random website pages where there are pictures that are obviously real employees, but it is clear from the picture that the employee knows they are being photographed. And in some of those, it looks like someone was brought in to do hair and makeup to make the employees look their very best for a picture the entire company would see. I am trying to imagine how I would feel if a picture of my backside was displayed to the entire company as a “don’t,” and I’m pretty sure I’d be mad as h*ll. And looking for a new job immediately.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Even if we’re not looking at the creep factor of it, it’s dehumanizing and humiliating. Imagine showing up to a staff meeting on dress codes and seeing your own butt up on screen as the “don’t” example! And that’s bad enough, but what if your coworkers also recognize that it’s you? Great, now you’ve highlighted me and put my literal a** on the line in front of everyone for a public scolding. What’s next, dunce caps? (Which is unfortunately not as far-fetched as one might hope, wasn’t there a letter about that a couple years back?)

          No. If you have a dress code ambiguity problem, go find some stock photos instead of publicly humiliating your staff.

      4. Rachel01*

        The photographer’s actions are passive aggressive. They need to talk to the women individually if there is an issue. There are many images on the internet that they can use, versus their employees rump shots.

        I would be so pissed to see a power point presentation of my butt on a screen discussing dress codes, that I would be tempted to file a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Many times employers also forget that the younger generation does not have the funds to buy a full wardrobe of what is professionally acceptable in their offices when they first start out. I would also be afraid that the photos would be shared & saved.

        OP, is there a HR Rep in your office? If so, go to them and state what you have witnessed.

        1. Rachel01*

          I didn’t read all of the letters before I wrote in. Didn’t realize it was volunteers. Sorry, but you cannot expect a serious dress code for volunteers. Sounds like an excuse for the butt shots, or being over controlling & going the wrong way about it.

          Scream out out, please “Did you just photo so sos’s rump?” what the hell?”

          1. Chinook*

            “Didn’t realize it was volunteers. Sorry, but you cannot expect a serious dress code for volunteers.”

            I disagree. Volunteers can be expected to follow a dress code as long as it doesn’t harm them financially. If you want them to wear some type of uniform (ex: a specific shirt) or PPE, then supply it to them at no cost. If you want to ban certain items (like wearing a mini skirt) because it hampers their movement or ruins the tone of the work they are volunteering to do, then make it explicit and ensure that there are low cost alternatives available (ex: Want your volunteers to wear black pants? Don’t be too picky if they are deep navy brown or a cheap fabric).

            Dress codes can serve a specific purpose, whether for safety, to ensure uniformity to make it easy to spot a volunteer or to create an atmosphere. If the reasons are well thought and explained, then volunteers should have no problem following it as part of their volunteer service.

            1. Rachel01*

              I’ve worn the “volunteer” t-shirt while volunteering at the SPCA. Business casual is all you can expect of volunteers in my opinion, unless you’re addressing a safety issue, or want a uniform that marks them as a volunteer. Dockers and a blouse should be enough in most situations.

              I can see saying no to miniskirts and shirts where your breasts hang out, but I’m making an assumption along the line of common sense in that regards.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          The absolute worst is short-term, low-paid temp jobs with very specific dress code requirements. I had a two-day assignment that required a white blouse, black skirt, and white tennis shoes, the last of which I did not own. It paid minimum wage, and if I’d turned it down I’d have lost my unemployment payments. So I had to buy new shoes, of a very specific kind, for a two-day minimum wage assignment.

          1. starsaphire*

            I so hear you, Gazebo Slayer!

            I once got a lecture from an earnest twentysomething regional manager about how I really should just go down to Nordstrom Rack and pick myself up a couple of nice business suits, just like she does, because the nice slacks, cotton blouses, and flats I was wearing were no longer acceptable.

            1. This was a 15-hour-a-week job that paid $4.00 per hour…
            2. …in a gift shop, selling overpriced souvenirs to tourists in T’s and shorts.
            3. I was a size 28 at the time. She was a size 4, or so she told me.
            4. The nearest Nordstrom Rack was in another city over an hour away, and I don’t drive.

            My co-worker, who also got the same lecture and was also a woman of size, quit the same day I did… but she didn’t leave quite as politely as I did. :D

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Putting on my fan convention hat for a moment here. Non-consensual photography can be, in that world, considered a form of harassment, or a violation of codes of conduct for a growing number of fan conventions. What this person is doing would definitely fall under that umbrella. (In the world of fan conventions, it’s mostly cosplayers on the receiving end, but not exclusively.)

      If caught in that environment, there could be consequences (depending on the exact event, their policies and processes, etc.). By which I mean anything from a conversation with those who handle such issues for the event…possibly ranging up to being booted from the event.

      It’s a big deal. Especially if she is targeting a specific demographic.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          As with most things, change is slow, and it’s not easy. And there are definitely bumps along the way. But most con organizers have good intentions, and want people to be and feel safe and comfortable. Despite the complaining of those who like to go on about “snowflakes” and “Social Justice Warriors,” etc. And the “Oh, NOES, no one will dare flirt with anyone ever again!” crowd.

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        Ha! Yeah. And I hope one of the people she has to deal with is Roz from Night Court.

  2. Mike C.*

    First off, “documenting dress code violations” is a best case scenario – all the other options are really, really gross.

    Why in the heck is the “photographer” not immediately being reported to HR? This isn’t something you fake pleasantries with and finish off with a “Can you do that?”, this is a serious breach of trust and a massive lack of trust.

    Stop allowing this sort of thing to just happen before you’re blamed for “letting it happen”.

    1. LouiseM*

      Who would blame the OP for letting it happen? I mean, I agree that she should speak up as a bystander, but I don’t see any reason to assume that the OP would be blamed for this situation in any way (nor would that even factor into my calculus, which would be about doing the right thing). Maybe this is a reading issue, though, since I also don’t see a “can you do that?” in the script.

      1. Mike C.*

        This is a cornerstone to any modern sexual harassment policy. Having zero tolerance for sexual harassment means reporting it when you suspect or have reason to believe something is wrong. Standing by and doing nothing means you’re not only allowing it continue and passively giving your approval.

        After all, if it were unacceptable behavior, someone would have said something, right?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree in principle, but I think it may not apply to OP in this circumstance. If the OP thinks the coworker is taking photos with the boss/owner’s knowledge/consent, that indicates there’s probably not a functional HR (if any HR) and that the owner certainly lacks basic common sense and judgment. That leaves OP without someone trustworthy to report the behavior to. All that’s left, then, is confronting the photographer.

          It’s also important to note that taking photos could also be a form of sexual harassment for OP, even if OP is not photographed or the intended target.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m not going to try and read tea leaves here, I’m just writing what she needs to do to keep her nose clean. If she wants to come in later to clarify she’s more than welcome to but for about 90% of cases she should have reported to HR immediately.

            1. LouiseM*

              Bystander intervention isn’t about keeping your nose clean. It’s about stepping up to help protect others.

              1. Mike C.*

                That’s a given, I really don’t appreciate your implication here.

                Fact is, too many people hide behind hollow excuses and need another reason to act. I don’t care why, so long as it happens.

                1. Not in US*

                  This comment really bothers me. I don’t disagree that harassment should be reported. But I think it’s simplistic to discount the potential repercussions. Especially if OP is a woman or a minority. I agree that we need to all speak up when we see things because that’s the only way things change – BUT that doesn’t mean it couldn’t endanger OP’s job or wider reputation. There is a reason women have put up with crap for so long – there are real costs to speaking up and I don’t think it’s fair to discount that.

                2. SarahJ*

                  For someone who is so passionate about labor issues, I’m surprised you’re more interested in shaming individuals than unpacking structural sexism against women, Mike.

                3. President Porpoise*

                  Not in US, I’m sympathetic, and that’s a real possibility but the truth is until women – all women, not just privileged white women – stand up for their rights, sexual harassment will continue to be normal (if hidden) and continue to disproportionally affect non-privileged workers. There’s no easy answer, but “I can’t, I might lose my job” just continues to perpetuate the problem. We all need to eat, and I don’t know how to solve the dilemma, but it’s concerning to me. Maybe we, as a society, need to do more to help people who are fired or retaliated against following claims of abuse or harassment. Currently, it feels like the prevailing advice continues to be “Don’t say anything or you’ll get fired” and “you got fired for reporting harassment; don’t file a lawsuit or you’ll never get hired again.”

          2. eplawyer*

            I’m going to disagree with both Mike and Princess here.

            1. This might not rise to the level of sexual harassment so no one had a duty to report. Sexual harassment has a very specific legal meaning. If a manager is just a moron who thinks the only way he can get the dress code changed is to provide concrete examples of how ambigous it is, that’s not sexual harassment. That’s just stupidity.
            a. Should it be reported to HR anyway? SURE. But not because of any zero tolerance policy but because the manager is an idiot who needs to have things explained to him with little tiny words. Also see below.

            2. Just because a manager may have authorized it does not mean there is no functioning HR. LOTS of places with functioning HRs have stupid stuff happen. It is quite possible that when HR hears this they will lose their collective minds. Then take care of it.

            It’s icky. It’s creepy. It needs to stop ASAP. But LW mentioned that a senior colleague is taking the pics at the possible behest of an even higher person. If LW intervened, it might not result in anything more than being told “Manager said so, shut up.” But if LW goes to HR and they are even halfway competent, then something can be done because HR does have standing.

            1. Mike C.*

              I’m not sayin it does rise to the level of sexual harassment, I’m saying it’s suspicious enough that normal, everyday folks could reasonably suspect there is something really bad going on and companies with modern sexual harassment policies have the expectation that people would report these activities.

              I was explicit about this.

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                Mike C, I know what you’re trying to say, I think, but I also think you may be mistaken about what modern (good) sexual harassment policies look like. (Unless OP is a manager, which I can’t tell from the comment.)

                In a solid, modern, well-thought out policy, supervisors and managers would have the duty to report to do what they could to stop harassment, and would have a duty to report harassment to whoever the company’s designated person is. In addition to (hopefully) just good citizenship in the world ideas, that’s because companies can be imputed to have knowledge of harassment if a manager knows of harassment.

                But regular line employees? Their knowledge is not generally imputed to the company, and most policies I’ve seen do not impose on such employees any kind of actual duty to report – they encourage reporting, but because harassment is understood to be an aggressive power play, those on the powerless side are not supposed to be victimized by a “you should have reported!” type of policy. Not reporting is not helpful, of course, but if OP is not a manager then this is not as much of a “keep your nose clean” situation as I’m reading your comment to imply.

                Also, this company, per OP’s comments, does not have an HR division, and so they may not have a person designated to receive sexual harassment or EEO complaints. That makes reporting incredibly tough, obviously especially as OP is concerned that the ultimate boss has directed the photos. Calling out the creepy behavior in the moment may be her best option, because it doesn’t seem as if there is any official reporting channel for her.

                1. LBK*

                  Agreed – I think it’s a much better policy to not put equal onus on management and employees to report harassment, because the latter has a lot more to lose. I don’t like the idea that the OP has an obligation to speak up or she’s “allowing it continue and passively giving your approval,” especially given the context that this is someone high up who’s close to the owner. It’s just not that simple and this attitude is actually part of the whole system that allows harassment to persist because it gives the people with the power an out to blame it on the employees (or even the victims) by saying, “Well, no one ever reported anything.”

                2. Specialk9*

                  Thank you for this comment. I was thinking ‘wait did I miss that? Regular employees who witness harassment are now on the hook in a way that, realistically, the harasser often isn’t?!’ I’m glad to hear that’s not actually a legal thing.

                  Speaking as a woman who has swallowed a lot of sexism directed at me and fumed when I see it directed at others, that’s crappy. It feels like re-victimizing victims.

                  Unless it’s only men who have to speak up when women are harassed? Would that mean only white people would be responsible for being silent when a person of color is being discriminated against? What about an entry level person who is witnessing a VP act badly?

                  I’m getting confused here, I think.

          3. Rachel01*

            If you are witnessing something that makes you uncomfortable & gives you the weebie geevies, you go to HR. It’s their job to find out what is taking place, address it if need be, etc.

            Please follow your instincts …. if it’s making you uncomfortable enough to write to AAM, you know it’s wrong. Please do what you can to address it?

            I would be so tempted to cry out, “did you just take a picture of her a##?” What are you doing?” Loud enough for the subject of her photo to hears it. This could also be a form of body shaming, if they are not careful. What looks good on one woman’s backside, may not on another’s.

            1. Anonymously anonymous*

              Not everyone is able to do this. People legitimately fear the consequences.
              Back in the 90s I shared info about sexual harassment (what’s the law, what does it look like, how do you report it, thst sort of thing) during an undergrad class I was teaching — I gave some info about an on campus resource every week or so. Then added, if you have some concerns or aren’t sure what to do, I’ll be glad to talk with you. OMG. I had students coming to my office for weeks. Many about a senior prof in my dept.
              I was a visiting asst prof = not tenure track. I needed that job and I needed good recs and I needed no one calling up his buddies at other schools I was applying to for tenure track jobs. Meeting with the dept head to share what I had learned was probably the hardest thing I have ever done at any job ever. I had to decide I was ok with the possibility of not having my contract renewed and more important with having my professional career cut off. Very very hard, and not something I was able to do in the past. I was fortunate that I had a spouse who supported me and was willing to be the sole earner if I needed to be unemployed and change careers.
              There’s a reason why it took til 2018 for Harvey Weinstein to do the perp walk.
              Should everyone report when they witness harassing behavior? Yes. Is it reasonable and fair to put down people who are afraid to do so? No.

        2. Les*

          Modern sexual harassment policy as opposed to what? I’m pretty sure they’re all modern and there were no sexual harassment policies before fairly recently.

          One ally to another: mansplaining sexual harassment to a woman is not a good look, my dude.

        3. Jam Today*

          You are really underestimating the likelihood of retaliation, and what that means for the person reporting misconduct. Its really great to say yeah you’d stake your career on reporting misdeed XYZ, its another thing entirely to do it, and no “retaliation is illegal” doesn’t make a person bulletproof, it just means that you can file an expensive lawsuit after the fact, if you can prove that you were retaliated against and for what reason, which means you need copious, airtight documentation.

          1. Les*

            I’m with you, but you’re missing something about Mike’s post. He’s not saying he’d stake his career on reporting sexual harassment. He’s saying he’d report sexual harassment to avoid being held responsible for not reporting it.

            1. LBK*

              But making such a definitive statement about that completely washes out the nuance of that calculation. You can’t make a broad declaration that it’s better to report it than not because each situation is different. You have to consider the positions of the people involved, your own level of political capital, the risk of retaliation if you do report it vs if you don’t, etc.

            2. Mike C.*

              I’d do it because it’s what should be done, I’m giving alternative reasons because too many people out there are perfectly fine with “not my problem” and ignoring the issue.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Ok you would do it. That’s great, seriously, way to go, great attitude, awesome ally-ness.

                I know you don’t mean it to sound this way but I need to point out that saying “it’s the right thing to do” is all well and good, but implying that a woman, any woman automatically has an obligation to do so, regardless of personal risk feels like victim shaming.

                You are male. Generally speaking, in work as well as the rest of society, males have so much less to lose than the average woman does for speaking up about … pretty much anything.

                This is not to say that no woman should ever speak out against injustice. On the contrary I think all women should fight against all injustice, particularly sexist BS as often and as loudly, and as publicly as possible.”

                Possible” being the operative word there…sometimes it’s just not possible for a particular woman (or group of women) to speak out. It’s generally not the same level of risk for males to speak out.

    2. OP# 1*

      No HR here. 25 employees (people being photographed are seasonal volunteers) and the photographing coworker is right at the top of the food chain.

      1. Airy*

        Well, if they’re volunteers they can leave without losing their paycheque, and I hope all of them do.

      2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Wait, what?!

        So you mean to tell us that an upper management employee at least (!) is photographing volunteers (!!!) to shame them(!!!!!)?!

        With all due respect, I totally disagree with Mike C’s approach in this comment thread, because it reads to me like he’s blaming you for your coworker being banana crackers. (I don’t think that’s your intention, Mike, but it really sounds like that.) But on the other hand…holy cow OP1 I was trying to think of ways that this could be worse and you just said all of them except for crazy coworker actually being a dude and you just genderswapping him to obscure his identity.

        Like, this isn’t my livelihood, so I can be more cavalier about it, but if you can, please talk to the owner about this! Even if he did ask her to do this for him, he needs to be aware that she is taking creepshots of the volunteers and what that means.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I think the point is, it’s likely the context *isn’t* to shame them, so much as to frame the discussion around what in the dress code is confusing – but it doesn’t matter, as others have said, there’s no shortage of catalog or internet photos that would be a better choice.

          1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            People are bananas. They probably want actual real life proof of confusion, without stopping to think about the ramifications.

            And…like, I’ll admit I was so aghast at everything that I’m pretty sure I blacked out in a fit of rage for a few minutes. But…you’re probably right that they’re not going out to humiliate the volunteers, but I’m pretty sure that that’s going to be the end result. It kind of reminds me of those stock videos of people walking around that they use to illustrate news stories about obesity – except everyone knows who the people in the video are.

            Jane has been asked by Fergus to arguably objectify the volunteers, and further to single out people for not following policy. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Jane and Fergus have built an eight lane freeway with theirs.

        2. Mike C.*

          If you’re going to have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, that mean reporting it when it’s suspected. That’s not weird, that’s not odd, that’s a pretty standard policy. How else can it be taken care of if no one ever says anything?

          And note, the only person I’ve “blamed” is the person taking pictures. If you believe otherwise, please quote where I’ve said that.

          1. SarahJ*

            “Mike C.
            June 5, 2018 at 12:22 am

            This is a cornerstone to any modern sexual harassment policy. Having zero tolerance for sexual harassment means reporting it when you suspect or have reason to believe something is wrong. Standing by and doing nothing means you’re not only allowing it continue and passively giving your approval.

            1. Mike C.*

              The OP hasn’t “stood by and done nothing”, she wrote a letter asking for advice in a tricky situation.

          2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            I didn’t say it was weird or unusual to report it. My issue was with you seemingly coming down as hard on the OP as Jane and Fergus.

            Like…in the abstract you’re right. In a perfect world OP should do everything she could to stop this because this is frankly horrifying. But she also works for a small organization with really messy chains of command (and if she’s in the field I think she’s in, things get even messier). Personally, I think it demonstrates a stunning lack of compassion for the OP that you can’t or won’t understand her hesitation.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I think you should tell the volunteers that they’re being covertly photographed.

        1. Tardigrade*

          Agreed. And I also agree with Mike C.’s position of immediate action. OP should feel no shame in alerting other higher ups and calling out this creep in the moment.

          1. medium of ballpoint*

            Seconded. I think Mike’s being a little strident here, and the OP isn’t responsible for their coworker’s behavior, but if I found out on my colleagues knew this was happening and didn’t say anything, my opinion of them would definitely change. And to be clear, OP, you’re trying to figure out what to do, which I appreciate. Thanks for sticking up for your colleagues!

          2. bonkerballs*

            OP literally says that this person is very close with the owner and she bets the owner already knows and approves of what’s happening. So while there may be no shame in it, there’s certainly the possibility for repercussions.

            1. Tardigrade*

              I’m assuming a situation where there are others above OP, others who aren’t the creeper and the owner. But if that’s wrong, and/or if OP thinks she would be retaliated against for reporting it, then I think she could tell the volunteers.

      4. Aveline*

        If these people are volunteers and this gets out, your organization will not be able to find replacements.

        When I was in law school, a nonprofit really screwed over one of our students who was interning. She was respected at the school. All the interns were immediately pulled. Next year, none of the three law schools on our city would allow the nonprofit to recruit on campuses to have a listing in our job database. This really hurt the organization as they relied on those students to do a lot of the non-courtroom legal work,

        Mistreating volunteers and unpaid interns is often worse for an org than mistreating employees. In some circumstances, they can be easier to replace.

        If this organization has a pipeline for these volunteers (e.g., a college network), you could always drop them a line and ask them to intervene. Even anonymously.

        I’d also point out to the higher ups that being this creepy to people you are not paying will not go over well if it gets out.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The more I think about this situation, the more riled up I’m feeling, so I’d want to say not “if it gets out” but “when it gets out.” I sincerely hope with all my heart that OP blows the whistle on this.

          1. RVA Cat*

            First these young women are going to quit, then they’re going to blast this all over social media. Do not be surprised if next they’re being interviewed on the local news and there are protests and boycotts of LW1’s business.

        2. Antilles*

          If these people are volunteers and this gets out, your organization will not be able to find replacements.
          Especially because there is absolutely *zero* percent chance that the volunteers will believe that it was just to check on dress code violations. Zero. Even if that really is the truth, there’s no way to explain ‘dress code violations’ in a way that will actually be believed rather than coming off as a ridiculous made-up bulltrash rationalization/justification.

          1. Lora*


            I have seen plenty of for-profit companies with doofus management who pull crap like this, and they find very rapidly that they can’t hire anyone even when they pay well above the going rate and have loads of perks. Cause nobody wants to work with jerks. If they were offering nothing but heartfelt thank-yous in compensation, I can’t imagine it will be way better.

      5. Merci Dee*

        Maybe it’s a “me” thing, but I can’t think of the last time I’ve heard of an organization that requires its =volunteers= to follow the corporate dress code. In some areas or for some organizations, it can be hard enough just to get volunteers in the first place. But then you’re going to police their outfits . . . and then take pictures of the ones who don’t comply? Sounds like a good way to permanently drain your volunteer pool.

        1. Sabina*

          I volunteer in an organization that has a dress code for volunteers but it is safety related (we work with animals and must wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, etc.) Most of us are women, though not young. The organization would lose us all if it pulled a stunt like the OP describes.

        2. many bells down*

          The dress code at my volunteer gig is “business casual”, which in Seattle is just “casual.” Jeans are fine. Yoga pants are probably not fine but I’ve never tried. I’ve come in jeans and t-shirt, I’ve come dressed up, I’ve worn skirts but never shorts since I don’t like them. One volunteer uses a motorized wheelchair and wears leggings and fuzzy socks (no shoes, because she does not walk).

          Our dress code is “more like guidelines than actual rules.” The paid floor staff, though, MUST wear black pants/shoes and are only allowed skirts/shorts during the summer.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            “The paid floor staff, though, MUST wear black pants/shoes and are only allowed skirts/shorts during the summer.”
            I like skirts year-round. In winter I wear them with black knit stockings and boots.
            I would not like this dress code and probably not take the job unless I was desperate.
            It’s very annoying that the people who make coats, for example, assume all women wear pants and drive. I’m inner city, transit user, and I ordered my spring coat in “tall” so it would come down to my knees. *sigh*

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’ve worked in many places that require volunteers to follow a dress code, sometimes because of industry norms regarding professionalism, and sometimes for safety reasons. [I think I’ve told the Intern From Hell story, before, but dress was on the long list of inappropriate things she did.] That said, it is not ok to photograph volunteers’ backsides to illustrate why their attire does not meet the dress code. It’s invasive, shaming, and inappropriate.

          If someone’s not dressed properly, tell them kindly and directly. If there’s a program-wide gap between volunteers’ understanding of the dress code and management’s understanding, download public pictures from the internet to use as your samples.

          OP, please say something. This is truly banana crackers and really not ok.

      6. Observer*

        “Banana crackers” is putting this mildly. It’s not hyperbole to say that this could really endanger the organization.

        Keep this in mind: If you are right and someone is stupid enough to do this to document dress code violations or issues with the dress code, then it WILL come out. And even if people actually believe that this is the reason, the backlash could destroy you. What volunteer is going to come work for an organization that takes creepshots to document “dress code violations”?!?!? The very kindest reaction anyone is going to have is that your organization as a whole is a hot mess of trash judgement.

        And if that’s NOT the reason? Read the news.

      7. Admin of Sys*

        I’m actually curious as to the legality of this, aside from the creep factor. As an employee, I’ve usually signed an employment contract that says that the company is allowed to record me for various security purposes. But if that isn’t stated explicitly in the volunteer paperwork, I’d think that the company is open to a serious lawsuit?

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          There is no “security purpose” in covertly photographing women’s butts in the cafeteria.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Agree, because even if it is about dress code violations, it’s 100% the wrong way to go about addressing the perceived problem!

      1. Seriously?*

        Especially since the problem is how vague the dress code is. The owner does not need to show evidence for changing or clarifying the dress code. And samples of what is or is not allowed can easily be found online.

        1. SunshineOH*

          This is what I came here to say. If this guy is at the top of the food chain (which OP says he is), he can just change the dress code. What the hell?

      2. Parenthetically*

        YES. Good God. Best case scenario is that this is tone-deafness gone bonkers, and it needs to be stopped.

    4. Friday afternoon fever*

      OP wrote in to ask for advice about how to intervene. This comment is uncharitable.

      P.S. HR is a luxury that’s woefully absent at many, many, many small and variously dysfunctional companies ;)

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        If there’s no HR, then there’s almost certainly also not some kind of formalized procedure for dealing with dress code violations.

        Honestly, this whole situation screams to me that the photos are going to be used in some kind of laff riot PowerPoint presentation at the end of the season — or that the big boss is already using the photos during his time in the executive washroom.

      2. Mike C.*

        I gave direct and actionable advice, what about my comment is “uncharitable”?

        I’m also really shocked at the tolerance people in this general thread have for not taking action when there’s sexual harassment going on right in front of them.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I’m not trying to accuse you of anything here, and I normally find a lot of interesting things in your comments, but your comments today feel a little more harsh than I think you intend for them to. I’m honestly not trying to tone police you, but the forcefulness you’re employing today feels out of place.

          1. Mike C.*

            The tone comes from the fact that this is a very serious thing. Things like workplace violence, sexual harassment, workplace safety, these are all issues in which the normal ways of doing things go out the window because they’re very serious and something needs to be done now.

            Any “forcefulness” you read isn’t meant to be critical of the OP, it’s meant to spur action. This is a very serious problem that has the potential of actually becoming much, much worse.

        2. LBK*

          I think you might need to consider your position as (IIRC) a straight white cis man when asserting that others are “tolerating” harassment by not immediately reporting it.

        3. AMPG*

          This is an incredibly unfair characterization of the tone of the thread. Nobody thinks this is OK. People are noting (correctly) that the chance of repercussions for anyone reporting is quite high, and strategizing about how to deal with the situation, given that understanding.

        4. Michaela Westen*

          Mike, there are many situations and workplaces where if you reported harassment, you would be treated with respect and not punished.
          If a young woman reported the exact same thing, she would be punished.

      3. neverjaunty*

        This. It’s not in any way helpful to make the OP a proxy for people who don’t want to do the right thing. She’s asking how she can stop this behavior in a situation where the person behaving badly is many levels up, and the person who runs the company may be permitting it.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            OP’s not a victim here, but is directly witnessing seriously creepy behavior.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’m not actually doing that. I gave direct, actionable advice that follows industry standards and people here are going nuts for reasons I simply cannot understand.

          What more do you want?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s totally fine to give advice! People are taking issue with you sounding like you’re making the OP responsible for her coworker’s behavior if she doesn’t report this (when she wrote in asking what to do), and for not sounding like you recognize that it can be more complicated than that for people in positions without a lot of power.

            1. LBK*

              Exactly this. I’m not seeing an appreciation for the levels to this situation – and maybe the answer is still that she should report it, but you’re framing it as “she should report it (and so should anyone else who ever witnesses harassment) because of a moral obligation, otherwise she’s complicit” rather than “I understand it’s risky because this potentially involves the owner of the company, but I think based on the details of the situation it’s still worth her reporting it.”

            2. Mike C.*

              The only reason I didn’t write a more complete answer is because I’m on a phone and the ads on this site are getting in the way of more complete answers. I would have thought that folks would have taken my posting history, understood that I’m well aware of these issues, combined that with your rule about “not nitpicking” and taken a more generous reading of what I posted.

              I guess not.

              I shouldn’t have to append to every post an explanation of every edge case nor the existence of systemic bigotry in the workplace. I know this. I know you know this. I know everyone else reading this knows this. Since we’re all aware of this, I chose not to rehash it.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Mike, come on. I have more respect for your intelligence than to accept that you really just ~don’t understand~ why people are frustrated with you for a comment in which you literally said that not immediately reporting something that may or may not be harassment means you are tacitly endorsing the behavior.

            Numerous people have responded to point out that often those who witness harassment are at risk for retaliation, especially if the reporting person also belongs to a vulnerable demographic, which may very understandably make people hesitant to speak up – and your response has been to act like we’re all just crazypants and misunderstanding you, and you’re the only Truly Rational Person in this conversation, even though your own words have been directly quoted back at you at least once so far that I’ve seen.

            If you’re not making OP a proxy for those who don’t want to speak up because they actually support the behavior, then why would you have said, and I quote, “Standing by and doing nothing means you’re not only allowing it continue and passively giving your approval.”? That is, quite literally, essentially telling the OP that if they don’t speak up immediately, they are communicating approval of the behavior, and that’s what so many people have a problem with. This is not a difficult concept, and you’re a smart guy – so it’s coming off as really disingenuous of you to fall back on “you’re all crazy! Why are you so mad at me?” the way you keep doing.

            1. Mike C.*

              When I said “Standing by and doing nothing means you’re not only allowing it continue and passively giving your approval.”, I was trying to respond to the general idea that folks don’t have some responsibility to report this behavior, not to the actions of the OP herself.

              She actually did something – she asked for help and advice. There’s nothing wrong with not being sure of what to do and asking for help, that’s incredibly productive. As I’ve said several times, I am not being critical of the OP.

  3. Liz*

    Re #1, would anyone recommend telling the people whose pictures were taken about what the OP saw? I would hate to be blindsided by seeing my backside on the screen if the picture taker and owner decide to use the photos in a presentation.

    1. Beth*

      Definitely. I would be so creeped out if someone took pictures of me like this (regardless of whether it was a man or a woman taking the photos!!), and finding out via a slideshow in a work meeting is one of the worse ways to learn about it. You’d have to somehow process the sheer creepiness and violation of it while also maintaining a somewhat professional demeanor, which is a lot.

      If OP is worried about retaliation, this might even be a case where an anonymous note could be worth it–I know they’re not usually considered an ideal route, but an anonymous “I saw this happening and thought you deserved to know” would at least give the photographed women a chance to decide how they want to handle it.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Seriously. If this is all above-board, she could ask the employees whether she could take and use the photographs for that purpose. Not take friggen creep-shots in the cafeteria and then blindside people about it.

        Though, really, the much less inappropriate option would be to use photos from online clothing retailers, stock photo sites etc.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I’m picturing the all hands presentation where they throw up a bunch of waist-down photos taken all over the company, with green circles overlain on the appropriate hemlines and red on the “bad” ones for a nice round of public shaming. Even though everyone agrees that the dresscode is now ambiguous and so the clothes are not violating anything–it’s like saying that buttondown Oxford shirts should be blue, but not too blue, and then wondering why some people’s definition of too blue is different from yours.

          A “problem” very easily illustrated with photos off fashion sites, rather than company-wide butt shots.

          1. Sabine*

            I can’t imagine myself doing anything but screaming immediately for their destruction.

          2. Judy (since 2010)*

            I’ve seen a document with the dress code illustrated with photos of employees. But the “good” and “bad” photos were of the same 2 male and 2 female employees, who worked in HR. I think they just had fun with a photo shoot.

            And it wasn’t waist down, it was the whole body. (The bad photos included flip flops and tank tops, crop shirts, heels taller than 2″ for the office workers, flowing clothes, etc. They had a lot of fun with it, you could see. It was for a manufacturing company.)

            1. kitryan*

              Yeah, I was thinking that if one must use employees, (which is not a given), then this is a better approach- use informed volunteers, keep shots full body, keep examples as unsexy as possible which you could do by giving mostly ‘good’ examples instead of bad where that would be an issue. So, show a skirt that is long enough and say ‘skirts should be this long’ as opposed to showing a stealth bottom shot and saying ‘this skirt is too short’.
              Still no real reason why catalog photos or better descriptions wouldn’t work even better though.
              But if it comes up, and it’s really about providing dress code examples, this may be a way to redirect the project to be less totally icky.

            2. Nonnon*

              I’m really hoping the boss asked for example photos of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dress code stuff to clarify things, thinking that this person would look up photos online or do a consensual photoshoot, and instead in their strange little brain they decided this meant ‘creepshots of our volunteers’.

              Better one loon than a whole chain of them.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes. At a minimum, I think OP should disclose this to the coworkers. I think OP should also confront the picture taker, but if nothing else, notify the subjects of the photographs.

  4. LouiseM*

    #3, in my industry it’s fairly common to have the years you attended school listed. So if someone had graduated in three years, it would be obvious from the Llama Shaving Academy, 2015-2018 or what have you. If I saw that on a resume, I’d probably make a mental note and be impressed (but if I saw it as a bullet point, it might seem just a bit out of touch).

    1. neverjaunty*

      This. It’s far, far better to let people decide whether they’re impressed by it on their own. Making it a Thing is telling them to be impressed, which won’t go over well.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I like how you’ve described this, and agree. Subtlety that allows the reader to determine whether they’re impressed would be much better than a bullet-point, which could come off as naive to the non-impressed.

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          I agree since there are lots of people who take longer to get a degree. Not because they aren’t motivated, but because they need to work or care for their family. Or even because they aren’t the kind of person advisors pull strings for. So as a hiring may, I want to the degree because it is a checkbox and then hear what you can do for me.

    2. Oxford Coma*

      Opposite accelerated degrees, how would that work for a degree that isn’t attended full-time and constantly? Start date–first hiatus, pickup date–second hiatus, etc?

      1. LovecraftInDC*

        You’d generally just put the range in that case, but honestly I would probably omit the start date if I hadn’t attended full time/constantly, even if that was against industry norm. Just listing graduation date wouldn’t be a HOLY COW WTF IS THIS change, and if it comes up during the interview then you have the opportunity.

        I’m in a similarish situation; due to a school employee who didn’t give me the proper info, I ended up having to take an additional class and so I graduated in the following calendar year, so I got my degree in five years. Nowadays, I joke about it in interviews because I was able to accelerate and get my Master’s in one, but I definitely stripped the high school degree off of there and just put college graduation year for my first couple jobs.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, it’s really normal to just list the graduation year, so it shouldn’t raise red flags to do that (unless there’s some field out there where it’s Not Done).

          1. Sally*

            And there are those of us trying to avoid age discrimination who don’t have the graduation year on our resumes.

        2. Antilles*

          That’s what I’ve seen – you just list the graduation date, then if the topic of how long you were in school comes up (which it usually doesn’t, unless you’re straight out of school), you can just straightforwardly explain that you only went part time since you were paying your own way / you took a couple years off due to an unexpected illness / etc.

        3. Jun Aruwba*

          When I was in college (around 10 years ago) it was statistically more common for people to graduate in 5 years than in 4. It’s a matter of perception; we have a General Idea that College Lasts 4 Years, but it’s based on norms of the “desirable” classes; people graduate from MIT, Harvard, or your local top 100 liberal arts school in 4 years or less, so that’s what’s perceived as “normal” even though it’s entirely common for people to take longer (say, went to community college for a year or two and then transferred to a 4 year and graduate from there in 3, or attend part-time over the course of 8 years, or whatever).

          1. many bells down*

            When I went back to school I was working on a two-year degree for three years and I wasn’t done yet. The major was so impacted that it took me two years to even get into the first core class.

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      And not too mention that recent studies have shown that high GPAs are usually neutral for men and a negative for women so best to exclude it altogether. Link to follow.

        1. Specialk9*

          Holy crap. Talk about moving the fenceposts.

          Then: “Women aren’t smart enough to succeed in business. It’s just not possible for women to be as smart as men.”

          Now: “Women are too smart! That’s bad! One shouldn’t be TOO smart.”

        2. Specialk9*

          My favorite parts of the article:

          “Of the applications she submitted from equally high-achieving male and female personas, men received calls for further discussion twice as often as did women with equal grades. In science and technology fields, the ratio favored men by three to one.

          Employers value competence and commitment in considering male applicants. But when evaluating female applicants, they focus on “perceived likeability.”

    4. Sarah Peterson*

      Agree here – having someone list their GPA and the fact that they finished in 3 years would not be a selling point for me, but rather a possible red flag that they want to be noticed and rewarded for every little thing.

      1. BadWolf*

        Or they didn’t spend any time doing other activities (music, volunteer, sports, summer job, whatever).

      2. SystemsLady*

        If there’s also a scholarship on that list, I’d actually be confused as to why OP didn’t use that opportunity to snag more credits or some sort of specialization, especially because they express interest in advanced degrees.

        But I also realize that’s probably pretty personal (I have the same list, but I took the full four years with multiple minors), and if there’s no scholarship involved that absolutely makes sense.

        1. Seriously?*

          I don’t think it would look that weird. Wanting to get to grad school is pretty understandable and even with a scholarship, there are living expenses and a delay in actually getting a salary so it probably would still make more sense financially to graduate in three vs four years.

        2. Ama*

          Eh, I finished my bachelor’s in 3 years because I had a 5 year scholarship and *did* intend to get a master’s. Problem was I had amassed too many credits to delay my graduation when I realized what I wanted to do in graduate school wasn’t a program my undergraduate alma mater offered. I actually ended up taking a year off and working because the graduate degree I wanted was generally offered in small very competitive programs and I because I rushed my first round of applications I didn’t get in on the first try.

          But I can also say that it has literally never come up in a job interview. I suppose for the few jobs I applied for early on when I still listed both my high school and bachelor’s with years received on my resume someone might have done the math, but they never mentioned it to me.

      3. AnotherJill*

        Especially since some of the reasons listed (AP credit, advisor puling strings) don’t really have much to do with the efforts of the LW. (AP credit might, but there are institutions that just give double dip credit for high school level work).

        The number of years that it took someone to get a degree is totally irrelevant to how much they got from their school work.

      4. smoke tree*

        Maybe it’s because it took me 5 years to graduate, but I personally wouldn’t assume that the faster a candidate finished their degree, the more committed and driven they are. Without any more context, I would probably just assume that they didn’t have to pay their way and didn’t have any other commitments (and that their program allowed it–I was in a program where some required courses were only offered once every few years). So it might not be the most useful point to mention anyway, apart from the risk of coming across as a bit naive.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Hmm — that format would make me wonder whether the applicant hadn’t graduated (attended three years, no degree).

      1. AMPG*

        As long as they list the degree it shouldn’t be an issue: “B.A., State University, Year-Year+3”

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, I disagree with Alison on this one. Although you’re understandably proud of graduating in three years, it’s common enough that it isn’t a distinguishing accomplishment from a hiring standpoint. Time to (undergrad) degree often speaks more to socioeconomic opportunity at the high school and college levels than it does to work ethic.

    With respect to your undergrad GPA, it should usually come off once you complete “higher higher ed”—in this case, your Masters. There’s a narrow array of jobs where it still may be useful (e.g., some academic and consulting/banking positions), but for many industries, it’s not going to add value.

    1. LouiseM*

      Yeah, I have to agree with the GPA. Leave it on if you’re applying for some sort of scholarship or even a very specific type of internship. Otherwise, it just doesn’t belong.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Mentioned above bit recent studies have even showed women are punished for high grades in applications. Whereas for men it appears neutral. So there really is never a good reason to put the GPA on your resume.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            I did above but it is still in moderation from 2 hrs prior. Just Google “women applicants with high grades punished” and the chronicle of higher education article I am referencing should be one of the top results.

      2. Liah*

        Also OP, if you put the fact that you graduated cum laude on your resume (which is very normal/expected, at least in my field), there’s really no need to put GPA too. One implies the other.

    2. BRR*

      Yeah I would never put graduated in three years. Maybe if your grad school gpa is also high include both for now but I favor taking them off sooner rather than later.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        In my STEM field, graduating in 3 years would be a sign that the program wasn’t very rigorous. Heck, given how the classes were offered and all the pre-req’s, it was practically impossible to graduate in less than 9 semesters if you started from scratch in my program. Everyone in my program either took a summer course, came in with AP credits, or got pre-req’s waived to graduate in 4 years.

        Likewise in grad school, the only way to get rid of a sub-par graduate student who has passed boards is to graduate them quickly. Talented grad students typically have more complex and impactful projects that take longer to finish. So I’m always a bit leery of people who claim to have gotten their PhDs quickly in my field.

    3. CBE*

      Yep. Graduating in three years usually means you didn’t have to work your way through college.
      Took me seven years and an average of three jobs at any given time.
      I could have done it in three years, too, if someone else was paying my living expenses and tuition.
      Saying someone should be *impressed* by finishing fast also implies that finishing slower is less impressive.
      I am dang proud of my degree and the fact that I managed to get it *and* stay out of debt, totally on my own without any outside help. But I am not putting that on my resume!
      There’s danger in thinking that doing something (faster, better, insert other comparative word here) than others is what makes you impressive.
      (Also, having someone pull strings for you because they REALLY liked you, which gave you an advantage over others who were not as well liked? Not resume worthy, either.)

      1. Grits McGee*

        Totally agree. Especially in the case of the OP, a lot of how she was able to graduate early was due to circumstances (availability of AP classes in high school, adviser willing to pull strings, etc). That’s not to say that OP didn’t work really hard and that it’s not an achievement to graduate in 3 years, just that graduating early might not have been achievable based entirely on her own effort.

        To be honest, I would only mention it to explain a shortcoming in the rest of OP’s resume. Ex- no work experience/internships during those 3 years because they were focused on graduating quickly. I might even add further explanation to justify why graduating early was more important than studying the full 4 years and maximizing the opportunities available as a student, like wanting to minimize the student loan burden.

      2. krysb*

        I’m working on year 15. Sometimes supporting yourself AND attending school is impossible. During my busiest work periods, I was working two full-time jobs and a part-time job. I was lucky I didn’t die.

        1. Elemeno P.*

          I had the privilege of finishing my BA in 4 years, but my fiance will finish in year 15 for much the same reason. He’s been part-time on and off the whole time, taking classes when his work schedule and finances allowed. It’s year 14 now. I am so ridiculously proud of him. I’ve been part-time with my MA for the past year and it’s so damn hard; I definitely couldn’t have kept this up for so long without giving up. Kudos to everyone who took the slower, harder route.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        (Also, having someone pull strings for you because they REALLY liked you, which gave you an advantage over others who were not as well liked? Not resume worthy, either.)

        Not only is this not resume-worthy, but to me, it would be a point against you, not a point in your favor.

      4. NPD*

        Yes, exactly. Took me a total of eight years from high school graduation to BA. That included two years of no school while I worked full time and dealt with family issues. I did manage to complete my junior and senior years in two years, while holding down three part-time jobs. It’s a wonder I did not kill myself doing that, though I am proud I did it and graduated with honors. I completed my MA in just over two years. I completed the coursework quickly, but had to take a break from my thesis due to work obligations. Those last four years (graduate school, and junior/senior year) really taught me how to organize and prioritize, though a little more free time would have been nice. ;)

    4. Dan*

      I work in tech, and I’d venture to say that if someone graduated in three years but had no internship or any sort of portfolio, it could actually count against them.

      I also graduated college in three years, and the reality is, life isn’t a race. While I am certainly proud of my accomplishments, PCBH is right – I graduated quick because of some breaks I caught at the high school level, which aren’t particularly resume worthy.

      What impresses me the most these days are smart people who understand how to apply what they know to the domain we work in. That’s a bit rarer than one might think.

    5. MK*

      It is theoretically possible to graduate from my law school in less than two thirds of the normal time. The few people I met who have done this have large gaps in their knowledge and understanding of how law works here; my guess is, it’s possible to cram-study the courses and get good grades in a fraction of the time, but not really to absorb the material in a way that will stay with you. So, I don’t actually consider “I rushed through my studies” a recommendation.

      1. Artemesia*

        I know may people who graduated in accelerator programs in law school, some of whom served on law journal. The only difference is that they didn’t get summers off i.e. they went three semesters a year for two years rather than two each for 3 years. I see no difference in either bar passing rates or knowledge; the big difference is that they tend to be ambitious and hard working. (several had been in the military and didn’t want to lose more time)

        1. MK*

          An accelerator program would probably different in that it is designed to get the same result in less time.

          Universities here don’t have summer semesters, so it’s not really an option to give summers up. Law school is supposed to last four years; people who graduate early basically take twice the recommended courses per semester, and then use an extra semester to make up any failed courses or simply have to wait (and possibly work), since it’s not allowed to get a degree in less than two and a half years. I am not claiming it’s impossible to do this and get a well-rounded education, just recounting my personal observations.

          I don’t take it for granted that people who finish early are lacking in knowledge; just that it’s not a recommendation. And there plenty of ambitious and hard-working people who complete their studies at a normal schedule.

        2. Legal Beagle*

          Most people who make it through law school are ambitious and hardworking. I interned full-time during my law school summers, and had great learning experiences that helped me get a job after graduation. One way is not superior to the other.

          1. The Other Geyn*

            This. And to be honest, I probably learned more from my summer internships than from. my law school classes.

        3. The Other Geyn*

          I’m a fairly recent law school graduate (2015), and in my experience, no one *got* summers off. People find internships or clerkships (paid or unpaid) during the summer, and those require an equal amount of ambition and work ethic.

    6. Huh*

      I agree. Though it does indicate that OP worked very hard *at school*… and I guess that’s something? I suppose? Lots of people could probably graduate in 3 years but didn’t try to, lots of people *can’t* because they have to work through school… I honestly wouldn’t think more highly of someone who graduated in 3 years… and pointing it out seems odd, because I don’t think it’s really special. I think it’d probably rub me the wrong way to say 3 years, I think Alison’s way of putting it on the resume is fine, though.

      As I read this, I understand socioeconomic in high school even more – lots of high schools don’t offer tons of AP classes, it’d be very difficult to graduate in 3 years without those “base” classes gone (and the nature of summer class schedules being less than the full semester).

      1. Jun Aruwba*

        Heck, the only reason I graduated *on time* was because I came in with 15 AP credits.

        Honestly, if you want to graduate school in 3 years, I’d say, that’s great, do it if you’re really feeling like you need or want to (like the folks someone else mentioned who’d been in the military and weren’t eager to “lose” more time), but never do it thinking it will grant you a competitive advantage. The ratio of work involved (SO MUCH WORK) to potential reward is devastating. I think we all intellectually understand that it’s hard to graduate early, but it still is just almost never going to be a decisive factor in your job search.

      2. JamieS*

        I’d definitely think more highly of someone who graduated in 3 years compared to others with otherwise similar resumes as far as work experience, internships, etc. Even if someone has advantages like AP classes and having school paid for they still demonstrated an ability to organize their schoolwork and ability to prioritize (as opposed to students who focus more on partying) to be able to graduate in a shorter period when there are lots of people with the exact same advantages who take 4+ years. I wouldn’t put it on a resume but I think it can possibly go in the cover letter if it can be made relevant to the job and not just something OP throws on there.

        I’m also not sure why people are saying they’d assume someone who graduated early didn’t have work experience since the resume would show that one way or another, how whether or not OP paid for school is relevant to hiring managers (most aren’t the privilege police), or why people are assuming OP didn’t work or otherwise have outside struggles.

    7. Elena*

      LW1, I would subtly put the years of college attendance and mention it in the cover letter if you need to emphasize your commitment to some goal, nut don’t ocer emphasize it. The adviser pulling for you is a good story if it illustrates an accomplishment on your part rather than personal friendliness, and I don’t think it belongs in a resume or cover letter.

      As for whether finishing in three years brands you as too “privileged” because you didn’t suffer enough for your education….Whatever. Your parents workes hard to save you from that suffering. Be grateful and mindful of other’s misfortunes, but their suffering – and especially their resentment – doesn’t take away your accomplishments.

      1. Huh*

        I think it’s less than it brands him as privileged, and more so even beyond the privilege, many people aren’t *trying* to graduate in 3 years – it’s just not a goal for everyone, so acting as if it sets you apart from people (as in, you did something they could not, therefore are a better candidate) doesn’t really make sense.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Especially because I’m betting there were other options the person could have taken advantage of that they chose not to in their rush to finish as soon as possible.

          I’m not judging, because I was absolutely in the “I’m so done with school and want to finish as soon as possible,” camp.

          But looking back there were a bunch of experiences that I ignored that could have been really cool and added to my life, but that wouldn’t allow me to take 18 credit hours (or the right 18 credit hours in the right order).

          Study abroad, DC internships, college exchange courses, regular internships, elective classes related to a hobby or interest, travel semesters (these were different than study abroad in that it was a single course you enrolled in through the college, where you prepared for and, went on a few week trip related to that course, like an art class might go visit famous museums in Europe, a French class would go to France and try to immerse themselves in the language while there, etc).

          Even like working at the shore for the summer might have been better for me than trying to cram my summer full of classes.

          1. Jun Aruwba*

            Yes! And there are *so* many things you can do in college that are just really hard to do when you’re out in the real world. In college, I took sculpture, archery, trap shooting, and a really fun “science for people who can’t science but need the credit” class that was basically just blowing stuff up. All really fun, and I still retain a lot of the things I learned, but I simply can’t afford to go shooting much, and it’s harder to get access to a kiln… I don’t universally think that people who graduated early made a mistake or anything, and I respect the hard work, but dang, college can be weird and fun in a way that you’ll never experience again!

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I think this is a good point. The letter strikes me as similar to a lot of letters from students, where they’ve been in school and school is what they know and things go through that filter. (Which means kudos to OP for thinking “Maybe this doesn’t come across universally the way I picture it in my head; I should run it by someone not in academia.”)

          For work assignments, speed can correlate to skill. Or to sloppiness. Or to a narrow focus that is a boon in some realms and a negative in others. Just like a focus on doing things to a high standard can be valued in some contexts and “look everyone just needs food, now, no one wants to wait another hour while you arrange microgreens with tweezers” in others. Ideally time plus some diversity of experience help people with Goldilocks adjusting.

        3. smoke tree*

          Yeah, I couldn’t have graduated in three years anyway, since I had to work through school and wanted to do internships, but I wasn’t actually in a rush to get it over with. I liked being a student and I think I got more out of it on a personal level than I would have if I were just trying to cram as many courses in as possible.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think anyone is saying OP should/shouldn’t suffer for their education?

      3. Mookie*

        Hard work doesn’t forestall misfortune or cancel out disadvantage; you can work hard and still come up short when the cards are stacked against you. Commenters are doing the LW a favor here, not pissing on her accomplishments, but recommending highlighting those accomplishments in a realistic light.

      4. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I’ve been asked for an example of a time I set a goal and worked towards it in a few interviews. Thus could be a good example assuming you don’t have any work experience you could pull from.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Oh, good example. Speed was OP’s goal, and she came up with and executed a plan to attain it while still getting high grades.

      5. LQ*

        Its odd for me to think of finishing in 3 years as being privileged. The people who could take 5 or 6 felt like the ones with privilege to me. I finished in 3 because that 4th year of expenses would have been a bridge to far. I worked 3 jobs (though they didn’t total full time).

        1. Sylvan*

          My classmates who graduated in three years were similar. Worked their asses off all year round. Privilege isn’t the assumption I’d jump to.

          1. A.*

            Yes the privilege assumption is very strange to me. People who graduated I know did so to cut back on living expenses for the 4th year. Not because they were privileged but because they had students loans or were paying out of pocket. I’ve only ever heard of people trying to graduate early to save money.

        2. Nonprofit pro*

          Same here. I worked my ass off in college, both in difficult classes and in my outside jobs because I had bills to pay. The sooner I graduated, the sooner I could start making money. I had friends who took their sweet time, with cushy study abroad programs spending a semester drinking in Italy and only taking the minimum number of credits each semester so they weren’t overworked. They were the ones with mommy and daddy paying the bills.

          1. LQ*

            Yeah. And I think part of this is who did you see and how they behaved. I saw a bunch of the drinking in Italy folk and spending time in the radio station listening to music and smoking. But if you saw people who got to do it a different way your perception is different.

            And you don’t know where the person reading your resume falls on that so it seems better to leave it off.

        3. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Taking longer signals privilege to you? I suppose taking longer while going full-time and not working could seem privileged. But lots of us take longer because we do not go full time because we are actually working full time while going to school, or we take semesters off to earn money so that we can afford to eat, etc. I took years for my undergrad because I took 9 credits each semester, not 12 or 16, because I was working as much as humanly possible while attending school, and I took a year off here, and a year off there, because I was just too poor not to be working and I had young kids who needed food and a roof over their heads.

          My strong feeling is that “how long did it take you to finish college” isn’t going to be an accurate measure of the level of financial privilege anyone faced.

          1. LQ*

            I totally agree about it not being an accurate measure of the financial privilege. I think it’s important to understand what both sides of the coin can look like. But the length of time to finish doesn’t gaurentee what someone’s financial status was going in.

            1. kitryan*

              Yeah- it can definitely go either way. I was on track to graduate a semester early because of AP credits and some summer classes. I was able to get AP credits and take summer classes and full loads of classes because my parents could pay for school and I didn’t have to do work-study or take summer/part time jobs. My dad was still pleased that he might not have to pay for an additional semester because college is expensive! So I could totally see trying to save by getting out and into the work force early. And if someone wasn’t as lucky, they might not have had exposure to AP classes/exams, been working throughout, and just not have been able to get in that much coursework. There are so many reasons for shorter or longer college terms coming up in comments that there’s no way to judge a specific case from just resume info
              In my case, unfortunately I got mono and had to drop a couple classes junior year, so I graduated in 4 years after all. I did get to take a really fun final semester since I’d been very proactive in getting all my general and major requirements done ASAP – the courses I remember were photography, computer graphics, and millinery (which was actually in my major). Made dean’s list that semester :)

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          The SES issue can cut many ways. Generally, people who come from higher SES high schools bring in AP/IB credit that isn’t available at lower SES high schools. Folks who finish in 3 years are often split between those that received external financial support (i.e., generally higher SES), and those who received generous financial aid but had significant pressure to graduate early in order to minimize the total cost of attendance (generally folks from lower SES backgrounds). All of my friends who graduated in 3 years were from low-SES homes but attended high-SES schools, they received no family financial support, and they were under extreme pressure to graduate “early” to save money.

          With respect to folks who take longer, there are often also three categories of folks. One group is higher SES with families who will pay for them to take an extra year. The second group attends programs where it is impossible to be admitted into all your required coursework, which impedes your ability to graduate on time (this was the case during budget cuts at the large state university I attended). The third group take longer to graduate because their degree is interrupted so they can work to pay for their college costs.

          But all of this is to say, for many people, time to degree comes down to SES, not work ethic. In all of the scenarios I described, people often work incredibly hard. Some of those people have the luxury of not having to obtain paid work while pursuing their degree (or working way fewer hours). But flagging a three-year degree on a resume doesn’t tell me that that person is hardworking or focused or diligent, even if all of those things are true.

          1. nonymous*

            In my part of the state, the high schools with IB programs are the ones with lowest SES, although schools in the nicer areas will have AP. I personally think that IB offers a curriculum structure that better prepares students for college. This is of greater need in areas with some density of first-gen college goers. But it’s important to remember that AP tests are available to all (not just HS students) regardless of local curriculum.

            Obviously both tracks speak to a distinct amount of privilege and it’s important to create spaces that value achievements of all types.

            1. Huh*

              >But it’s important to remember that AP tests are available to all (not just HS students) regardless of local curriculum.

              I’m not sure what your point is here, could you explain further? (I’m trying to find a polite way to say this that makes it clear I’m not being snarky!) Not only are the tests somewhat costly if I remember correctly, it’s not like the average high school student can teach themselves college level work.

              1. kitryan*

                This is my recollection as well- you have to know the tests exist, have the test fee, and have the ability/resources to learn the material to score well. This seems like a fairly high hurdle (not impossible, but high) if you don’t have the kind of support you get when your school offers AP classes and guidance counselors and so forth.

          2. CynicallySweet7*

            Throwing in a fourth option for people who take longer to graduate. Working full time while going to school at night. That’s what I did and it took like seven years for me to get a degree (lots of labs and an internship)

            Though I do have to say that graduating in three years with high accolades is a little impressive. I personally think it does show a good work ethic (but I also agree that it could say a lot about their SES). But and this is a big but, if that’s the only thing on a resume that would indicate those traits it wouldn’t mean very much at all

      6. Elena*

        LW wasn’t bragging, arrogant or entitled in their letter. I didn’t read any self-importance in that letter – just reasonable pride and optimism. I don’t think there’s a big ego that needs righteous bursting there.

        Yet there are several comments in this thread, including Princess’s, suggesting that graduating early reflects poorly on them because it is a sign of privilege, not accompmishment; and that considering it an accomplishment is bad form – presumably because it derives from LW’s supposed and of course unearned privilege.

        Outside of what goes on a resume, “not coming across as too privileged” – as a goal in itself is harmful advice. You feel guilty for your accomplishment and start to resent others who don’t self-police their own privilege. It takes you down the path if resentment, which is a path to be avoided.

    8. PB*

      I agree with this. You can put the range of years you attended school (e.g., 2014-2017) and let the interviewers do the math, but I wouldn’t make it a bullet. While you can be justifiably proud of your hard work, as a hiring manager, the number of years you were in school isn’t as important to me as the outcomes.

      I also agree about GPA. My GPAs for undergrad and both graduate programs are all over 3.9, but they’re no longer on my resume, as I finished school ten years ago. This is very much a know-your-field thing, however. You might want to run it by an advisor or people you know who are already working.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      This letter reminded me of a psych rule that I’ve found to hold true, including for myself: For self-evaluating things we’re good at, we credit our hard work; for things we’re bad at, we were just unlucky and not born with that skill.

      I like Louise M’s suggestion of subtlety: if you want to include the 3 years, put the years attended. Some people will notice; of those, some will be impressed (a lot of people with OP’s starting point don’t accomplish this) and some shrug and attribute it to your parents’ economic status (high school with lots of AP; not needing to work in undergrad). How much hard work vs luck resume readers grant to it will vary a lot between readers.

    10. Yorick*

      Even if you don’t get a Masters, leave off GPA after a couple of years. Speaking as a professor, your GPA doesn’t necessary say much about your work ethic or what have you. Universities, departments, professors, and even individual classes vary so much in the types of assignments and the standards for grading, so I have no idea what you had to do to get so many As. Even without that, some people are drawn a major that comes really naturally to them, so they don’t have to work that hard at it to get great grades. Others are drawn to something that isn’t so easy to them, so their GPA is a little lower even though they’re very smart and hard working.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I was older than OP before I finally grasped how much working hard to master something that didn’t come easy could be a more transferable skill than excelling at something that comes naturally. If your explanation for how you solved a problem rests on “well it was intuitively obvious that…” it’s both harder to teach that answer to someone else, and harder to come up with an approach when you do finally hit something that isn’t intuitive.

    11. LQ*

      Agreed. It doesn’t really impress anyone. You only had to pay for 3 years of school, that’s reward enough. (I did it too, I think I had it on my resume for my first job out of school and that was it. I didn’t have a masters. Even then, it wasn’t impressive.)

    12. JeanB in NC*

      Wow, I’m a little surprised at the number of commenters here who feel the need to downplay the OP’s accomplishments. Saying you don’t need to put your GPA on your resume because of reasons is one thing; telling the OP that if she graduated in 3 years she obviously didn’t take enough hard classes or she should have done internships (which we don’t know one way or the other) or that the program wasn’t rigorous enough (!) seems a little unkind.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think people are trying to give the range of responses that someone might have. A lot of the cautions are from people who themselves finished in 3 years.

      2. Jesmlet*

        I think there’s a distinction between diminishing OP’s accomplishments, which is how you’re reading the comments, and saying this could be interpreted as a negative so she should leave it off. If someone highlighted that on their resume, it would be impossible to tell if it happened because they’re an extremely hard worker or if it happened because they’re privileged. You don’t want to put people in the position of assuming one or the other because it could easily swing the wrong way.

        1. Nonprofit pro*

          Isn’t that true of almost anything? Connie Curator shouldn’t put her summer internship at the Met on her resume because it’s impossible to know whether she got it through a rigorous application process and her own hard work or if her parents donated a lot of money to it. Is a study abroad program something that really taught you new perspectives and gave you experiences that you could not find at your home campus or a fancy excuse to drink and party in a new locale?
          I went to a very expensive private liberal arts school. Was I a hard worker who figured out that they gave me the best financial aid package and the small class sizes would give me opportunities not found in a larger school or am I a privileged snot who thought the campus looked pretty and liked the idea of a water-skiing class?

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            That people could have different reactions to anything is true, but that’s missing all the context of the issue here. If the positives outweigh the negatives, or if coming up with negatives would involve bizarre speculation, put it on the resume. So “internship at the Met” and “went to a really good school” – those go on a resume (what reasonable person is going to say that a solid internship has no educational benefit?! Or that a good school has no educational benefit?!). There are obvious positives to those, and negatives will involve speculation and reaching to find the dark cloud inside a silver lining. But “I graduated in three years instead of 4” doesn’t actually say much about a person unless you know why the person graduated in 3 years instead of 4, and no one is going to know why based on a line in a resume. It’s a rather neutral fact without context.

            (That said, OP, not trying to downplay your hard work! Just that it’s not going to be as much of a selling point in your favor as you might wish it were.)

      3. Yorick*

        I don’t think anyone means this specific to the OP. This is an explanation of why her GPA and 3 years can’t really be used to compare her to other candidates.

      4. Lirael*

        Agreed, I feel like OP’s kind of getting dumped on here. And obviously so much depends on your field and the specific hiring manager, but at least in my experience/field, a high GPA and graduating in three years would put her up near the top of the resume pile and on to the phone interview stage for an entry level spot and so she should absolutely have it on for her first job or two. It’s not enough by itself to guarantee the job or anything, but it’d be a big plus. So I guess my advice is to try to feel out the norms of your field to know how much to highlight it and how long it stays on the resume.

        1. grace*

          Yeah, I’m a recent grad, and we definitely look at GPA in my company and also at, like, half of the jobs I applied to when I was graduating. A lot of jobs actually require a high GPA and WILL ask about the fact that the years on your resume are only 3. When you’re a student, that MATTERS.

          It’s so bizarre to me to see this leap from ‘this isn’t relevant in my field but may be in others’ to ‘this will come across as privileged and others don’t have this chance so you shouldn’t do it,’ which is just … supremely unhelpful.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, it’s really not outrageous to include a GPA on a resume! Given how common it is among people for a few years after graduating, it would be odd for a hiring manager to be put off by that. (I’m on record as saying you don’t need to in most fields, but it’s not something that a reasonable hiring manager is going to be turned off by.)

          2. smoke tree*

            I’m seeing more people saying that it might not be a great idea to highlight a 3-year undergrad program, both because it could come off as a bit naive and because it may not necessarily signal what you expect it to, so it might not be worth devoting space to it. I don’t think there’s any issue with just including the dates without comment.

      5. Nonprofit pro*

        I agree. Graduating in 3 years IS impressive. There are a lot of assumptions in the comments that are definitely unkind.

        1. AnotherJill*

          It could be impressive but it could also not be impressive. How rigorous was the program? What is the typical time of finish? Were the AP credits for extra college work or just double dipped high school classes? Why did the sdvisor need to “pull some strings”?

          The length of time it takes to finish a degree really isn’t a sign of how an individual will fit into a work situation. Mentioning it can come off as severely naive.

          1. smoke tree*

            This is why I think it makes most sense to just include the dates without highlighting them. If the hiring manager doesn’t care about it, they will see it as neutral. If hiring manager thinks it’s relevant, they may ask about it in an interview, and then the LW can use that as a chance to impress them.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Given the choice between a candidate that graduated in 3 years with no internships or someone who graduated in 4 years with a couple of internships, I wouldn’t consider the candidate that graduated in 3 years to be a better candidate.

          Graduating in 3 years is impressive. It tells me the candidate is intelligent and driven and probably has excellent time management skills in order to balance all the coursework.

          Graduating in 4 years with multiple internships and a high GPA tells me they are probably also intelligent and driven, and that they have real-life exposure to the industry and work world and so might not need as much coaching to fit into work norms as someone with no internships or office jobs might.

          Neither would be detrimental to the person’s candidacy, and the difference between the two choices of how to handle undergrad would not be the deciding factor in who got the job.

          Especially because there are so many mitigating factors – did the OP need to graduate as quickly as possible because she’s couldn’t afford to be in school for longer or do internships (or because she saw it was the more financially responsible decision to not take out an extra year of student loans). Did she take a gap year before college where she volunteered or traveled the whole year? Did the candidate who has internships come in late all the time and get asked not to come back? Would the candidate who took 4 years have also taken 3 years if they had the opportunity to take AP classes in high school, but didn’t have that option in their school district? Did the student graduate in 3 years and also hold leadership position in clubs, etc? Did the student who took 4 years spend all their time outside of class getting wasted?

          Who knows!

          But something can be impressive while also not being something that would make them a better job candidate. Running a marathon is impressive. Being a professional level e-sports player is impressive. Neither of those things will necessarily make them a better job candidate, though.

        3. Huh*

          Eh, I mean, it could be, and it couldn’t be. I don’t think it’s unkind, as much as just the reality of the situation. OP could have come from a school with tons of AP classes, and therefore easily graduate in 3 years. Or OP could have taken full course load constantly and worked very hard.

          And frankly, it only makes OP impressive in comparison to others *who tried to graduate in 3 years* but failed or had a lower GPA. A majority of college students are NOT trying to graduate in 3 years, and therefore comparing OP to those people while hiring would be moot. You can’t say, “Oh well OP graduated in 3 years!” when another student wasn’t even trying to do that. It doesn’t show that OP is better than them, just that they made different choices.

          Not to mention, having a job isn’t like taking 18 credits a semester or graduating early. In fact, I’d argue that since most jobs are 40 hours a week, it’s not too relevant of a factor for a lot of jobs. Though graduating early can be impressive, I might not need someone who’s willing to work that much for me!

      6. Luna*

        I agree, it seems uncharitable to the LW to be making all these assumptions about how hard she worked and whether she is economically privileged. Her question can be answered without all that.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But it *is* useful for her to see that not everyone is going to impressed by how quickly she finished, and that some will actually have the opposite reaction.

          1. Jesmlet*

            Yes, thank you. If it were me reviewing her resume, I’d probably notice it, ask about it out of curiosity, and not think about it a second after. This is firmly in the neutral at best column for me.

      7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think the purpose is to diminish OP’s achievements, but rather, to help OP understand that OP’s achievement could read differently to others than it does to OP. Are there employers who will be impressed by OP’s three-year degree and GPA? Absolutely! Are there employers who will find it not particularly illustrative and who may possibly side-eye flagging the three years to degree? Yes.

        I don’t think anyone is accusing OP of being privileged or attending a non-rigorous program. I think folks are trying to share their experiences to help OP understand how flagging the time-to-degree could play out in different fields. I’ve liked all the comments about how to subtly signal the three-year turnaround, because I think it avoids setting off people who would side-eye a bullet point about it while still impressing people who would find the quick turnaround impressive.

      8. Lindsay J*

        I wasn’t saying she definitely needed to do internships or anything like that, so I’m sorry it came off that way.

        I was just agreeing that even for highly driven people, their goal isn’t always to graduate as quickly as possible, and that graduating in 3 years isn’t necessarily more impressive than someone who remained in school for 4 years but that did an internship or worked full time on top of school or who raised their little sister at the same time or whatever.

        (And expressing a little regret because I was one of the people who did want to get out of school as quickly as possible, and I feel like I missed out on some cool things that aren’t really accessible if you’re not in school.)

    13. Avacado*

      I actually think showing how you graduated early means you did pursue work opportunities/opportunities as you took more classes.

      Some people worked full time through college. Some did nothing but party. Work history matters 100xs more than early graduation in my mind hiring someone. I would leave it off. To announce it on your resume seems to show that you do not understand the importance of real world experience.

  6. LouiseM*

    #4, this situation is messed up! It’s not okay for your company to leave you waiting on this money for an indeterminate amount of time, and you shouldn’t feel bad about pushing back on this.

    1. Engineer Woman*

      Yes! Push back. The company or your managers (not quite understanding about how it’s different for managers to reimburse because ultimately it’s company money, right?) should reimburse right away. All this mumbo jumbo is ridiculous – it was agreed 1 training for professional development will be reimbursed and they need to do so asap.

      Your company could say that moving forward (before any future trainings are paid for out of pocket), that there will be no more reimbursement – which isn’t good but things can change – however costs incurred based on previous processes need to be reimbursed.

      1. Eliza*

        It sounds like the managers are paying out of their own pockets, using money they were paid for shifts that were actually worked by the trainees. The whole arrangement seems pretty shady.

        1. OP#4*

          Yes, it’s a personal repayment from the managers in return for doing this extra work. Given the expenses involved, it works out to about $500-600 per manager per trainee. So not chump change, but also much less than the “market rate” for working one weekend/month.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            That is a truly horrid and ridiculous system that probably violates all sorts of rules, possibly also laws.

            BUT that is not a reason for them not to reimburse you. You acted in good faith, both in setting up the conference and in working the weekend shift. Management doesn’t get to have their Come to FSM moment conveniently between your doing your part and their doing their part.

            1. Chinook*

              Forget laws, this feels like it will cause issues at income tax time because it feels like the managers are paying compensation off the books for work done by the trainees. How does the IRS (or Revenue Canada) deal with something like that?

              1. OP #4*

                I don’t know how other people have handled it in the past, but I reported last year’s on my taxes as “miscellaneous income.” Which sucked because I got hit for the self-employment tax of 15% in addition to the regular 25% tax.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  But you weren’t self-employed, and you shouldn’t have been taxed!
                  I’m tempted to say report this to the IRS, but I don’t know what the consequences would be.

          2. Engineer Woman*

            Oh my. This is just so wrong. In the first place, managers shouldn’t be able to personally pay employees for doing part of their jobs. Secondly, this means OP and other trainees have put in work (work meant for managers at that) and their compensation for this work is the reimbursement of a conference. So this isn’t even a “usual” professional development reimbursement here. This is actually the pay owed to OP for having worked some weekends.

            All of this is messed up, OP. Things at a company should not operate in this manner.

          3. Lizzie Bennet*

            I’m not clear from your comments on whether this training is in lieu of paying you for working the weekend or in addition to your pay for working the weekend. If you weren’t paid for working the weekend, then you’ll want to address that as well. You’re legally entitled to your wages no matter what.

          4. Media Monkey*

            hang on – so the trainees work a weekend shift every months for the managers, and the managers are paid for this. They are then asked to pay $500-600 for a conference which totals less than they have earned off the back of the work of the trainee? WTF?

          5. LBK*

            Wow, this is super sketchy. I can see why that manager pulled out but they need to finish what they started first, otherwise they’re really screwing you over.

            1. Sarah*

              Agreed, the whole thing is SUPER shady, but the solution is not “So, I will do an even shadier thing and screw over the trainee EVEN MORE.”

          6. smoke tree*

            This system seems ludicrous. If I’m understanding correctly, although the managers are paying out of their personal funds, the company is making it sound like a perk that comes with the job when they speak to candidates??

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, there is nothing I like about this.

          Like, if the managers don’t like doing these shifts and there’s not a business need for it to be managers, why isn’t it an employee task that is presented as part of their regular workload vs something they have to buy off people to do?

          Do higer-ups know this is happening?

          Are the employees hourly. If so, are they getting paid for this weekend work or is this reimbursement supposed to a replacement for their hourly wage? (I think that’s illegal).

          How is this all being taxed? (I’m almost positive it’s not being done correctly).

          Who has decided what is okay for reimbursement and what is not? Is it consistent across the board or up to each individual manager?

          Who is looking at this to make sure that unconscious bias isn’t adversely affecting the opportunities and reimbursements for certain workers?

          What happens if there are unforseen costs above what the managers expected to pay for reimbursement? Like if there’s a storm and all flights are canceled and they have to spend several extra days in a hotel. Or if they or a family member back home get sick or injured and they have to book a pricey last minute ticket back right away?

          What recourse is there is one of the managers just decides they’re not paying (like what’s happening now)? Can the company compel the manager to pay the employee based on this informal arrangement? Or pay the employee and deduct it from the manager’s future pay-checks? Does the company have to pay out without getting reimbursed from the manager to avoid an unpaid labor claim? Would the employee have to sue the manager in order to get payment?

          This just seems like a nightmare for everyone involved.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I wonder if requiring managers to pull one weekend a month was originally instituted from on-high as a way to ensure they knew what that work entailed? Like Disney World at one point required all their managers to spend a few hours a year in a giant fuzzy animal costume, interacting with visitors under the broiling Orlando sun. Some took it in the spirit intended; some spent five minutes interacting with visitors and the rest of the time taking the pulse of the workplace without a giant head on.

    2. Seriously?*

      Yep. If they want to change the agreement going forward, that is their prerogative. But that needs to be done BEFORE they offload their work, not after. I find it funny that the manager thinks reimbursing the OP would be “unethical” but it is not unethical to essentially trick her into working for free one weekend.

      1. Specialk9*

        And to leave OP holding the bag for a $2,000 conference they were promised reimbursement for!

  7. LouiseM*

    #5, the times I can see this making sense is when you’re in some sort of contract position and want to make it clear that you left after two years because of that. So I can see something like Llama Shaving Fellow (two year post-graduate development fellowship) making sense.

    1. Dragoning*

      My industry is full of permalancers, so I just put “Contract” in parens next to my job title. No one seems to have an issue with it, and it explains the employer discrepancy as well as the sometimes quick date.

    2. Kathlynn*

      Or seasonal work. I did this with my seasonal jobs on my last resume. But it doesn’t guarantee that hiring managers will notice it

    3. Ophelia*

      In my field, it’s common to have a mix of short- and long-term work (there are a lot of people who work on projects, then become consultants, sometimes work for a firm for a few years, etc.), so one thing I’ve seen people do is list out their long term employment, and then provide a relevant sampling of short-term consulting assignments that they update based on what they’re applying for. This is definitely something that would vary by industry, though.

    4. LeisureSuitLarry*

      OP5 reporting for duty!

      To my knowledge, my friend has never been in a contract position. Actually, his career is not one that I think typically uses contractors, although some functions have been contracted out to specialty firms, like accounting firms. I have not seen his resume, but the way he described it to me was that he has a bullet point for one of the jobs that basically says “Left to deal with a family health issue on the other side of the country.” Knowing him like I do, I know that that particular reason is 85% bs. He left for one reason, and almost as soon as he got where he was going his father did have a family emergency, but it wasn’t really his reason for leaving.

  8. Mark132*

    Honestly that is a long chain of assumptions in letter #1. The only thing you know is she is taking convert pictures of ladies backsides. It seems a stretch to blame this on the business owner.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think OP is blaming the business owner. OP is speculating, based on her observations of the relationship between the photographer and the owner, that the owner is, at a minimum, aware that these photos are being taken and has not told the photographer to stop. That may be an unfair assumption to make (i.e., that the owner knows and tacitly approves), but it’s not really blaming the owner.

      1. Mark132*

        In the letter she really does though “He might have even requested that she do so in preparation for a management meeting on our need for a less-ambiguous dress code. It’s been a topic of conversation.”

        1. Lara*

          I’m glad you’re focusing on the really key issue here, which is obviously the hypothetical feelings of the male business owner.

        2. DArcy*

          Even if the owner asked her to take pictures, I very much doubt that he told her to take ass shots. That is grossly inappropriate. I would consider it well-justified to quietly warn all co-workers that this person is running around taking inappropriate pictures and they need to be careful around her.

    2. Drew*

      I’m sure he’s grateful you’re here to defend him. Why not trust the letter writer to know her own company’s culture?

    3. BuildMeUp*

      I would guess that’s extra info the OP raised as a possibility because they’re worried if it’s at the owner’s behest it will be difficult to get the behavior to stop.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Exactly. If a likely context for the pictures is “The owner, to whom she’s close, has been talking about changing the dress code” that is important information to include. Both in why she’s doing it and on how to approach anyone senior about it.

      2. LBK*

        Yeah, that’s how I took it – it was useful context for understanding the challenge of trying to escalate this.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Actually, no matter what the reason or where the directive came from, it is still not OK for someone to be taking covert photos of women’s butts in the cafeteria.

      1. Seriously?*

        But it does mean that telling the owner what is happening is unlikely to fix the problem. If the most likely scenario was that the employee was doing this without any directive to do so then the problem would most likely be fixed by looping in a superior.

  9. Beth*

    Re: #1: I don’t love the “Imagine it was a man taking the photos” part of this. It’s creepy no matter who’s doing it–I can’t imagine any acceptable reason to be going around photographing other people’s butts without their knowledge or permission. I understand that it’s supposed to be warding off a possible “But I’m a woman too, it’s not sexual!” rebuttal, but I think anticipating that paradigm and playing into it undermines the universal grossness of the behavior.

    1. Observer*

      I hear. But the point here is to make someone step back and really THINK about what they are doing.

      1. Beth*

        Like I said, I get the idea behind it, but honestly if someone isn’t inspired to think by “What the heck are you doing? Did you just take a picture of her butt??? That’s incredibly inappropriate”, then I don’t think anything’s going to get through to them. And I don’t like reinforcing the paradigm that suggests things are creepier when men do them; the behavior is equally creepy and inappropriate no matter who does it.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          the behavior is equally creepy and inappropriate no matter who does it

          I think that’s what is supposed to come across from saying “imagine if this were a man,” though – that the actions shouldn’t be minimized just because it’s a woman taking the pictures, and that it’s still creepy, inappropriate, and could be considered sexual harassment.

          1. Lara*

            Exactly. And it was meant to point out that if a dude was photographing women’s butts, no-one would be talking about copyright or dress code violation – everyone’s mind would go right to ‘creep’ and rightly so.

            1. sunny-dee*

              Well, because a man would likely be taking butt shots to whack off to.

              In this case, the OP is specifically assuming that the photographer and possibly business owner are taking the shots to record inappropriate work clothes as part of trying to fix the dress code policy — while still an invasion of privacy, it’s not the same as “creeper taking secret pictures for his spank bank.”

              1. Lara*

                Why wouldn’t a woman be doing that? Women are perfectly capable of being voyeuristic creeps.

                It could very easily be “creeper taking secret pictures for *her* spank bank.”

                1. sunny-dee*

                  Well, if we’re taking the OP at her word, the assumption is that this woman is doing it to document dress code violations, not for sexual release.

                  So comparing it to sexual release is inappropriate.

                2. Lara*

                  I am taking OP at her word that the woman in question *said* that she was taking the pictures for dress code reasons.

                  I think it is important to point out that the woman is probably lying, and not inappropriate in the context at all.

                3. Leslie knope*

                  I mean, if you ignore context entirely, sure. But sexism exists, so there’s a difference.

                4. Lara*

                  Leslie – women are in prison for sexual violations, so it absolutely happens. As others have pointed out, Harvey Weinstein had his female ‘flying monkeys’ (pysch term for malicious lackeys) who colluded to help him harass women, so she could also be a proxy for the boss.

                  And this woman is taking pictures of her volunteer’s buttocks. The fact that sexism exists and is prevalent does not negate that this *person* is photographing other people’s (sexualised) body parts.

              2. Decima Dewey*

                If this is related to a potential dress code discussion, the photographer could argue that taking pictures from the waist down is a measure to protect the dress code violator’s identity. Trouble with that is, if the picture of a skirt that’s too short is too distinctive (for example, a cat tapestry skirt that Amphelisia wore last week), everyone will know.

                FWIW, I happen to own a cat tapestry skirt.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      Alison was suggesting that language if OP is talking to someone else, not to the photographer.

      My personal assumption is that the business owner wants the pics for whacking off and asked this employee to take them, and used “dress code violations” as an excuse. Of course, that’s still buying into OP’s idea that it’s about dress code violations at all. Which, why does she think that? “…and I believe she’s taking them to illustrate violations of our ambiguous dress code…” with no reason for thinking so, aside from “It’s been a topic of conversation.” Because otherwise, they jumped to that assumption rather than just being baffled about the behavior.

  10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, this scheme stinks, no doubt. I would lean heavily on the fact that your manager’s position changed after your trip, and those changes should not be applied retroactively to trips already taken because you relied on the company’s representations. I agree with Alison in that you should approach it as an “of course you would reimburse me for this very reasonable request, so how should we navigate the transition and red tape?”

    1. Rachel01*

      Quick? Did the OP work a weekend without pay to have expenses reimbursed on a business trip? Is that what’s taking place? I’m asking for clarification on how this plays out. OP … if you are working without pay … an on-call weekend without pay in order to be reimbursed by the manager (are they paying you individually since you worked their shift?) than they backed out. I would submit your hours & OT, and go to the labor board. This is so illegal if is what’s taking place. Sounds like it’s something being done underhanded so managers do not have to work weekends, and payroll & upper management may be unaware of it.

      Please clarify.

      1. OP#4*

        Yes, I worked 6 weekends (Friday 4:30pm till Monday 8am) and was promised conference reimbursement in return. I am exempt so hours/overtime does not apply — I feel like this would be so much easier if it did!

  11. Anita*

    Just a note on #5, resumes for some government (and government contracting) positions should indeed have the salary and number of hours/week worked

    1. Miss Elaine e.*

      As a resume writer, I was just coming on to say the same thing: Federal format resumes require salary, number of hours worked etc.

    2. sunny-dee*

      And one very niche area — my husband is in high level management in the restaurant industry. While he doesn’t include salary / hourly rates on his resume, he does include overall sales, location volume, and number of people managed.

  12. Lara*

    For #4 – is it possible that the manager can’t afford / doesn’t want to pay? The non logic of “I’m going to stick a trainee with a $2000 bill for company expenses… for ethics!” Really stuck in my craw.

    1. JerryLarryTerryGary*

      Is it the manager’s personal money? It wasn’t clear from the letter (if it’s not, where’s the ethical conflict?)
      The manager shouldn’t be paying business expenses either, though the time to object is before the OP needs reimbursement.

      1. Lara*

        That was the impression I got, though it was ambiguous. It is irrelevant in a way though; the trainee should still not have to pay for the conference. I was just wondering if the manager was trying to wriggle out of it.

      2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        My initial thought was this, until I considered maybe the repayment comes from the managers’ P&L, and she would rather use her bottom line to pay for her own staff.

      3. OP#4*

        Yes, it’s a personal repayment. There are three managers all at the same level, and two trainees. The way it works is that the trainees split the weekend calls (6 weekends each), and in return the managers split the cost of 1 conference each of the trainee’s choosing. The whole thing was shady from the beginning, but it was presented to me as “this is how it’s been done since forever” — by the same person who is now objecting.

        1. Lara*

          Your manager needs to stick to your agreement, then ask the company for reimbursement. Alison’s scripts are great – do you have the agreement in writing?

          “one of the managers decided she no longer wanted to be part of this scheme because it’s unethical.”

          However shady or unethical the original plan, it is far, far more unethical to attempt to leave a trainee on the hook for $2000.

          1. Teapot librarian*

            Precisely what I was going to say. You can’t lean on some changed opinion about what is “ethical” or not to screw a lower level employee (or anyone, really) out of money you promised to reimburse.

          2. piny*

            It’s not just that! If these people want to opt out of this reimbursement scheme, that’s fine, but the consequence is that their company is now guilty of wage theft. The lower-level employees have all worked twelve on-call days that the company has no intention of paying them for. That’s illegal – there are state and federal laws in place that prohibit that. It is indeed unethical to have this weird paid-in-kind, paid-in-professional development, paid-at-a-steep-discount thing, but it’s way more unethical, and way more categorically against the law, to have your employees doing a lot of work free of charge!

            If you get pushback on this, LW, ask about next steps regarding contacting the company to receive compensation for your twelve days of unpaid labor, at whatever hourly/overtime rate you’re entitled to. Especially since you’re leaving, don’t just let these people bilk you out of thousands of dollars.

            1. piny*

              And if the managers are getting paid for your twelve days of work, they could very well be personally liable, not just the company.

          3. Lynn Whitehat*

            Yup. I get the thinking of “this broken system will never change until people stop propping it up!” But you would want to tell your employees beforehand that you’re not going to be paying for any more conferences going forward.

        2. Naptime Enthusiast*

          Ew yes, that’s crappy. I was under the initial assumption that the manager’s budgets paid for it but that doesn’t make sense with this new information.

          I’d say bring it up with the other 2 managers, forward them any emails you may have from the manager that’s refusing to pay now, and see what they say. This may pressure the other manager into repaying you, at the expense of some of your working relationship though.

        3. Delta Delta*

          This is so bizarre. If I’m reading this correctly, the managers personally repay employees out of their own pockets for the employees to attend the trainings? Please tell me if I’m misunderstanding. If it is the case, everyone loses (except the Company).

        4. Oilpress*

          Be firm. Be insistent and persistent. Don’t take no for an answer. If everything blows up and you have to leave this company that might not be a bad thing for you. It sounds like they have some ethical issues you should try to opt out of.

          1. OP #4*

            Yes, the managers pay the employees directly. It was a crappy system. I am leaving anyway at the end of June (and counting down the days!)

            1. Magee*

              Make sure you get this worked out before you leave, in writing! Once you leave, I have a feeling the managers will feel a lot less inclined to reimburse you if there is nothing in writing.

              But yes, definitely get out of there.

              1. Luna*

                Don’t settle for an IOU, make sure to get the money before you leave!! This is so shady. Are all the managers doing this or just the one? Can you talk to the other managers or someone else higher up if your boss won’t pay?

            2. Observer*

              I’m glad to hear that you’re leaving. I was going to suggest that, in fact.

            3. Nanani*

              Maybe consider dropping a line to relevant labour agencies on your way out. This setup STINKS.

            4. Michaela Westen*

              If they don’t pay you, take them to court. Make sure you have every reference to this system in writing and the documents from when they paid you last year.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I mean, every reference in writing that describes this system… this is what I’m trying to say…

        5. Rusty Shackelford*

          Definitely shady. Have the other managers paid what they owe you, at least?

        6. Seriously?*

          Are the managers being paid for working those weekends?? That is extra shady if so.

        7. InternWrangler*

          Can you loop in the other 2 managers to get their support on the reimbursement?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Aha. A viable reason for the manager to suddenly discover a moral objection to the system–she already spent the money on something else.

  13. BadWolf*

    On OP2, in addition to the suggestions, I might consider tacking on something to the effect, “the later time is generally better for me anyway” (assuming that’s somewhat true).

    If she ‘s trying to be an early bird and/or be considerate of your time zone, giving her an out of it being better for you, it might help.

    1. Tardigrade*

      I like this option. “X:00 pm would be better for my schedule. Would that work for you?” Sounds better than, “you never make our X:00 am meeting.”

    2. LBK*

      Yeah, I think this is tricky because (as someone who sucks at waking up early) it can be emotionally fraught to have someone call you out on not being able to make early morning commitments. I think giving her a way to save face will help – it’s unlikely she’s going to want to admit that she’s failing at waking up on time, and conceding to moving the meeting because she keeps missing it rather than because of some other reason the OP proposes will probably feel like a failure to her. It would be a kindness to give her a totally unrelated out; whether you should have to do that for your own boss is certainly up for debate, but I think this is a really good case study on “managing up”.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Agree with BadWolf.

      I’m currently working in a place where the HQ is in California, and we regularly have meetings with people in Chicago, Florida, London, Europe, and sometimes Singapore. Everyone is up-front about the fact of time zones. If California and Singapore have to meet, it’s hard for everyone, because our 7am is their 10pm. But otherwise? Our 8am is London’s 4pm, and that’s super do-able.

      OP only has a 6-hour time difference. That means that 10am for Boss is 4pm for OP. What is going on with Boss’ schedule that they’re having to wake up early for meetings? (And where is upper management located that Boss is scheduling super-early meetings with them, too?)

  14. Lara*

    #1 – there is no non creepy explanation for what your colleague is doing. Taking covert photographs of body parts of her young female employees? This has #metoo written all over it. I don’t care if it’s for dress codes, her personal gratification or a collage. Do we have to wait until she’s cornering people in stairwells before she faces any consequences?

    1. Seriously?*

      Yeah, she may not have creepy motives, but it is an inherently creepy act so motive is irrelevant.

      1. RVA Cat*

        I think the male business owner has creep motives and is having a woman take the pictures to be less obvious.
        Sorry but this reminds me of the sick culture at The Weinstein Company where helping Harvey and Bob harass women was literally some people’s jobs.

      2. Lara*

        I mean… why are we assuming she doesn’t? Women are perfectly capable of being sexual predators, and a man who said… “Uh, yeah, i’m getting these ass shots for… dress code violations…” would be laughed all the way to HR / court.

    2. sunny-dee*

      Do you not see the difference, though? I mean, if she is taking pictures in a public space of dress code violations, that is inherently different than raping someone in a back stairwell. Conflating the two doesn’t help anything.

      The photography is an invasion of privacy. That is bad enough.

      1. Lara*

        Thing is, I really don’t think she is taking these photographs for dress code violations. I think she’s doing it because she’s a massive creeper and she’s getting away with it because she’s female. Plus – it may sound silly to you, but Weinstein and his mates didn’t *start* with sexual assault. They started with stuff like this, and worked their way up.

        1. sunny-dee*

          So, you think the OP is wrong or lying? You’re making this up when the OP clearly says she believes this is related to the dress code and may be sanctioned by the owner.

          Trying to make an (incredibly) ill-advised attempt to document dress code issues into sexual violence is not helpful.

          1. tusky*

            Sunny-dee: the thing is, intent alone doesn’t determine whether an act is sexual violence or not. It’s difficult to even determine someone else’s intent from observation alone, but ascribing non-malicious intent to problematic behaviors is a pretty normal way of trying to grapple with encountering these behaviors. That said, I don’t see Lara calling the photography itself “sexual violence,” but rather placing it along the spectrum of behaviors that may lead to, or create a culture tolerant of, sexual violence (see my comment below). I would gently suggest that you are the one conflating things here.

        2. Lara*

          I think the OP is wrong, yes. And there is nothing wrong with that. A senior employee is taking photographs of her volunteers butts. Pointing out that this could – very easily and very likely – have a sexual component is not ‘ill advised’ – it is essential because this woman should not be allowed to get away with it.

          Please note that several other people have suggested that this could have a sexual component to it, so I’m curious as to why you have only accused *me* of being inappropriate and off base? Especially after you personally suggested that a male would be taking the photographs for his ‘spank bank’ (your words).

          I get that many people are uncomfortable with the idea that females can be sexual predators; it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Excusing this woman’s behaviour and brushing it aside in the way you are doing is also ‘ill advised’ and ‘unhelpful’.

        3. smoke tree*

          To me, it seems equally plausible that she’s a lackey type and willing to commit ethical violations on the boss’s behalf (who may have creepy motivations himself) or that she’s just a creep. Either way is awful, but if she’s the boss’s second-in-command, the LW’s options seem limited. I would definitely inform the people who have been photographed (and anyone else who seems like a potential target), particularly since they’re volunteers and can leave without suffering financially.

      2. tusky*

        Of course they are different, but they exist on the same spectrum (even if the photographer’s intent is to document dress code violations, it is a non-consensual body-focused act; or an invasion of bodily privacy, as you put it). Tolerance for the one contributes to a culture that tolerates the other. Saying this is not conflating the two; it is classifying them under the same broad category (or drawing an analogy by degree). Surely you can see the difference?

  15. Oxford Coma*

    A couple of places at which I’ve worked had a generic disclaimer within the hire agreement stating that the company could use your image within the workplace for any purpose they desired, including advertising. (In fact, several of the young attractive folks ended up on banners used at job fairs. We middle-aged employees were spared this, natch.)

    I wonder if that sort of policy in place for LW #1, and if Ansella Adams is planning to use it as her “out”.

    1. Myrin*

      Does this kind of agreement apply to pictures taken without someone’s knowledge or consent, though?

      1. SignalLost*

        It might. This scenario is very unlikely to be covered by a blanket statement like that, but a crowd shot at an all-hands or a shot across an open office of a typical workday would be. As I’ve learned from photographers before, the essential distinction is whether someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy. So if you were shooting photos on a college campus, you could take pictures of the quad with no issue because it’s a public space, but you would need signed releases for any classroom shots. I suspect that disclaimer covers the latter scenario and functions as a photographic release. But taking pictures of an individual’s sexualized body parts is unlikely, I think, to be covered by a blanket release, if it came to a court. I am only a hobbyist in copyright law, though, so I make no promises this is accurate.

        1. Sigrid*

          My understanding of the law is that once you leave your front door you lose all “expectations of privacy”, thus the various lawsuits that have deemed “upskirt” photos taken in the street legal. However, I don’t know if you regain such expectations of privacy when you enter a private building such as your place of work. Work has a bunch of specific rules/laws around privacy, but I don’t know if any of them cover “I have a reasonable expectation that higher-ups are not going to take pictures of my ass”.

          There also seems to be an understanding in the law that if any pictures (in public) are legal, all pictures are legal, hence the rulings on the “upskirt” cases. But again, is work deemed a public or private space? Who makes the rules on privacy at work? I don’t know the relevant case law here! And ultimately — this is seriously creepy and it should stop whether or not it is technically illegal.

          Also not a llama.

          1. Observer*

            It’s not really that simple.

            And in the workplace, there definitely ARE expectations of privacy. There have been, for instance, law suits about the legality of placing cameras in areas like restrooms, and employers who have tried that have consistently lost. Recording audio in an office space is also problematic, although I don’t know if that’s Federal or just on a State level.

            1. I am who I am*

              It’s definitely a gray area.
              Customer Service centers record all of the calls, but my understanding of the law in my state is that when reviewing calls they are supposed to stop listening as soon as feasible after determining a call is personal. They can fire you for taking too many personal calls, but they aren’t permitted to review the recordings of those personal calls without good cause. But then what’s good cause?

              As always, I am not a llama.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            ” various lawsuits that have deemed “upskirt” photos taken in the street legal”

            Don’t mean to nitpick, but this may seem like nitpicking. Lawsuits are civil suits, and not usually what people mean when they talk about what is “legal.” For example, in some areas, upskirt photos were legal because “peeping tom” statutes were out of date with technology and did not apply and so the perps could not be convicted – but a civil lawsuit alleging violation of privacy or infliction of emotional distress or some such tort may have worked.

            You don’t lose *all* expectation of privacy when you go in public – you lose *some* expectation of privacy. It’s a spectrum and the law recognizes that. Context is everything.

            But the question here isn’t really about legality, civil or criminal. It’s about ethics. (That said, there could be civil liability issues here for the company, but it would require more info than what we have here.)

          3. Lara*

            Upskirts should be illegal. So should this. Either way, neither should be happening at work.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Whoa! Respectfully, this is not an accurate description of the expectation of privacy or the laws regarding upskirt photos! Please see Jessie’s post for details.

            And generally speaking, there is an expectation of (some) privacy in the workplace. In the civil context, privacy is not a binary issue—it’s a spectrum, with different legal requirements depending on where you are on that spectrum. In the criminal context, privacy is defined around different kinds of criminal behavior, and most states have amended their laws to criminalize unconsenting upskirt photo-taking and other similar invasions of privacy (e.g., revenge porn).

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It could, but it’s highly unlikely. There’s an implied reasonability in all releases, unless they are very detailed and specific. Even a broad waiver/permission to take/use photos often will not extend to taking “candid,” unconsented photos of young women’s behinds.

        Imagine if someone were doing the same but taking photos of cleavage or upskirt photos. A release would not excuse taking inappropriate/lascivious/lech photos.

        1. sunny-dee*

          To point out, though, newsrooms do this ALL THE TIME for B-reel on stories about obesity (for example) or even for random things like street crime or public transit. They’ll take close-up shots of a person from the neck down or of specific parts (belly, feet, hands) and then just roll voice over.

          This sounds pretty much like what the lady is doing — taking shots of inappropriately short skirts without showing the face. Particularly for internal training, I don’t think there’s an argument to be made here for anything being illegal. It’s creepy and particularly in a small office is likely to alienate people horribly.

          But, again, it’s not comparable to an up-skirt shot on a subway or something.

          1. Luna*

            This isn’t the same as the news reels though, because those reels of are non-employees out in public spaces. Taking these photos of your own employees, while at work, is much more invasive. And if all the employees in your photos are women than that adds in the question of whether the women were targeted or discriminated against due to their gender.

          2. Lara*

            Is it not? Seems pretty similar, in the same way that a cleavage shot would be.

            As you say though – small office or large, this tactic (if it is about dress codes) is likely to equal a *flood* of people out the door.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            What’s happening here isn’t quite the same as newsreel, though. I agree that the news b-reel is problematic and not ok, but it’s subject to different legal standards regarding privacy norms.

            But more importantly, whether she’s crossed the line in terms of civil legal liability is secondary to the fact that she’s crossed a line in terms of appropriate workplace ethics and boundaries. Her behavior isn’t ok, and if she keeps it up, it could be seen as harassing (which opens the employer up to liability).

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Routinely (as I have signed many a form giving permission to take photos of my children) it’s someone snapping off at one side and people may not be aware of it. You just trust that any photos eventually used are going to be “Look how much fun campers/employees/squirrel enthusiasts have here!” and not “Don’t be a fashion don’t like this uncoordinated schlub.”

      4. Allison*

        In theory, yes, but that’s so they can use pictures of meetings or work events, group shots of people just doing their thing and not necessarily posing or smiling for the camera. Photos that single women out for showing too much leg might technically follow the rules, but are so unethical you’d need to be a real jerk to defend them.

    2. DArcy*

      That sort of policy covers the appropriate professional use of pictures for promotional purposes, not ass shots.

      1. Oxford Coma*

        Very few, but if she’s being this blatant about something so gross, she must have invented some justification in her mind, applicable or not.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Even if the photos are about dress code violations (they are 100% not about dress code violations), its not OK to take covert photos of women’s butts in the cafeteria.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        An advertisement that will emphasize the hemlines in the workplace. “Work at Bobblehead Unl; our hemlines are mid-thigh.”

    3. pleaset*

      Because something is legal does not make it right
      + from an ethical standpoint
      + from an employee-relations standpoint.

    4. Observer*

      Whatever she’s planning to use, I doubt this could work. “consent” to use pictures doesn’t mean “consent to harassment.”

  16. Jemima Bond*

    LW#4 do follow Alison’s advice and push back hard until you get your money. Don’t worry about seeming greedy to others – it’s a job, you do it for money, you aren’t making a charitable donation. It was agreed you would be reimbursed and they are obliged to do so. No reasonable person expects anyone (even someone on an astronomical salary!) to just let two grand go.
    Imagine you were your own friend: what would you say? Probably something like, “good grief Percivaline, they owe you that money, you make them pay up!”

  17. Anonymous Ampersand*

    #2: I wouldn’t even say anything about whether the time works for your manager, I’d just say “it would work better for me”. Good luck!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yes, Alison’s script works best if the meeting really is “ridiculously early” on her end – but my boss also is unlikely to make it to an 8AM and sometimes even a 9AM meeting – he’ll say he can/will, but then I’ll just end up twiddling my thumbs until he jumps on at 9:15. I now just say, “9:30 is best for me if that works for you” without noting his faults :P

  18. M*

    OP#4 are you in the US? I only ask because that system sounds so shady as to be illegal to me but my only experience is in the US. How are managers getting paid for work others are doing? And how are trainees working hours for which they are not paid? Especially as, it seems from your other comments, the managers are getting paid more than they are giving to the trainees (or not giving in this case) for the weekend work. This seems like a bad idea for many reasons.

    1. OP#4*

      Yes, we are in the US. As far as I am aware, the managers are not getting paid “extra” for the weekend calls they are not doing; it’s considered part of their job duties. Weekend call is explicitly not part of trainee job duties for this position. So yeah, there are also ethical issues with managers having trainees do their weekend work for them, but my main concern is just how to get the money I was promised after holding up my end of the bargain.

      1. AerynSun*

        This whole arrangement is pretty odd but this bit seems like a point you could reasonably push back on. You did work that wasn’t in your job description on the agreement that your time would be rewarded by the conference funding. It’s very unreasonable for the managers to renege on the deal *after* you did the work. HAd you know you weren’t going to get that reward presumably you wouldn’t have taken on the extra work.

      2. Narise*

        First polish your resume and start looking. Second loop in higher ups and HR and make it clear you need this money reimbursed in 30 days or there will be interest charges. Third stop working all weekends and do not plan any more trips until you have it in writing the company will reimburse you all expenses and within x number of days. Better yet let them charge expenses to their credit card. Finally you can file small claims against the company and/or have a lawyer sending them a letter warning them of legal action. Finally make sure all of this is put on Glass Door.

        1. OP #4*

          Oh, I’m leaving anyway when my training program ends in 19 days (but who’s counting?) They asked me to stay on, taking on the work of someone who has left but getting none of the credit/job title, and I thought about it for about two seconds before saying “HAHAHA NO”

          1. Kyrielle*

            Because you’re on the way out, I would push hard on this. I imagine you want a good reference, but at least you don’t have to worry about the actual job. And, as far as I can see, this scheme is illegal. They should’ve had to pay you for the weekend work, deferring it so you get “paid” later in reimbursement isn’t okay. But at the very least, having made the agreement, they need to *actually reimburse you*.

        2. Specialk9*

          I wish I had known earlier in life how thoroughly Small Claims Court can melt away problems, whether landlord or employer.

          $2k should be in scope for small claims court, and it doesn’t involve a lawyer. Just make sure to save copies of everything (and send some emails with key details if you haven’t already, eg “You told me this, I spent this, now you’re saying this, I need to you reimburse $2k this month.” Bcc your personal email.)

          How to file in the next comment.

      3. Seriously?*

        Does the company know this is happening? If not, report the managers. If they do know then look into whether it put you above the number of hours you were supposed to work. They could be violating labor laws by making you work weekends unpaid.

      4. Jessie the First (or second)*

        OP, please seriously consider contacting the Department of Labor about this. If you are not being reimbursed for company-mandated training, *and* you are not being paid for your on-call weekends, this is absolutely something the DOL should know about (and could help you get your money).

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I think the hitch is that the trainings are not company-mandated, they’re more like an office perk that OP wants to do for their career. It sucks but at my company attending conferences etc is often considered a “reward” not a work necessity.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            In one of OP’s comments, she says the company directed her to go early to a conference to present something, which would make this specifically a work-directed trip, so for at least this one conference, I think wage theft could be an issue. She also took on weekend on-call work. (If she is properly classified as exempt, this is not so helpful, of course.)

  19. Birch*

    (I really hope this doesn’t sound harsh–it hit home for me and I mean it with the best of intentions! It took me far too long to stop obsessing about grades and put more value into the experience of learning!)

    It’s really a myth that GPA has anything to do with being smart and driven. It just means you got good grades in the classes you signed up for, and there are soooo many reasons that might not happen! It’s definitely something to be proud of, but GPA is not at all an objective measure–and it sounds like you already understand that there’s a good deal of luck/chance involved. Plenty of students only take courses they know they can do well in, or only take the bare minimum of courses, which is not exactly “driven.” (That isn’t the situation here, but it’s just an example of how GPA can be misunderstood). An illness or taking care of a family member that causes one failed midterm can tank your GPA, one class that doesn’t go well for whatever reason, double majoring or taking too many classes as a challenge and taking longer to graduate. There’s grade inflation and the wide variation in curriculum quality and standards between universities and even between professors. Everybody has such a different experience at university, and plenty of smart, driven people don’t even go to university at all. The point is that the number itself is very relative and doesn’t mean much outside your specific niche in the university. What you actually learned and can bring to the job market is so much more important.

    That being said, OP, you should definitely be proud of your work at university–doing extra courses and graduating early with honors are real achievements! University is such a great time to explore ideas and work on interpersonal skills and work-related skills, and more importantly than the grades, you’ve shown excellent judgment in choosing classes, time management, ambition, hard work, etc. And you got into a Master’s program! That’s also something to be really proud of. You should be able to talk about what you actually learned and what experiences at university were valuable for you. Those are the things that future employers will be looking at. Also, since you’re working on your Master’s degree, your undergrad is not going to be as relevant as your higher degree. IMO you can use your undergrad graduation story in your cover letter (for your first job only! then talk about your Master’s) as an example of how hardworking and driven you are, but just mention the honors, not the GPA, come up with some stories from your undergrad that are examples of what you learned, what projects you enjoyed, important things your professors taught you, and then focus on your Master’s and the future. Good luck with everything and enjoy the Master’s!

    1. Oxford Coma*

      Agreed. There are very few professions in which your GPA matters forever. Teaching can be one: I know a few local districts that automatically reject any applicants with an undergrad GPA under 3.0, no matter their age/experience/grad work. Unfortunately, this rules out some amazing teachers. But generally speaking, in business, GPA has a very short shelf life.

    2. Agnes*

      Like anything, GPA is an indicator, not a perfect guide. On average, GPA will indeed be higher in those who are smart and driven – it’s not a “myth” just because it’s not a perfect correlation, or because there are other things that affect it. OP’s GPA would not have been the same if she slacked.

      1. Sarah Peterson*

        I got a 4.0 in my second Master’s program and I did hardly any work for it (yes, fully accredited major public university) – it was as easy as high school, and was just a hoop I needed to jump through to get the job I am in currently and that I love. That said, I worked incredibly hard in my first Master’s program for a 3.9. And yet, I don’t think either of these numbers really have any meaning at all, and certainly wouldn’t help potential employers determine my fit for their jobs.

      2. tusky*

        Agnes: thank you for saying this. I tend to think of it like this–a low GPA doesn’t mean one isn’t smart or hard-working, but a high GPA generally reflects some amount of work and ability. It’s important not to tie grades to intelligence or worth, and to recognize the many different factors that shape academic performance. But, I sometimes think that dismissing the work (whether or not it was “hard”) that goes into getting high grades comes across as humble-braggy (like, “oh this 4.0? was nothing for me”) and can ironically reinforce the idea that people who get lower grades are somehow less capable. I think the aim should be to support multiple kinds of knowledge/skills and modes of evaluation, and to detach academic/professional performance from moral qualities.

        1. Specialk9*

          I got perfect grades, scholarships out the wazoo… and I now believe that schools peddle a unique form of BS about intelligence.

          I was good at taking tests, and buckled down to study and do homework… Because I have an anxiety disorder, and I thought that impressing people would get me friends. (Ha!)

          You know who else got good grades? The mealy-mouthed student who repeated what the teacher said and acted adoring.

          You know who barely passed in school? The only person I knew at the time who made me feel like an utter dimwit, who I genuinely believe is a genius.

          And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that blue collar work is bizarrely considered dumb and white collar smart. I know someone who is an underwater (scuba) welder — nothing I do on my computer takes that level of skill!

          1. tusky*

            Yes. I do think it depends on the school, and the subject matter. Most of my good grades in high school were due to fear of not doing what I saw as “normal” (for example, got really good at producing well-structured writing, but less good at creating interesting content). But, striving to get high grades in (well-designed, well-taught) advanced math and science courses drove me to more actively engage with challenging, non-intuitive material, and thus to find I really enjoyed it.

    3. Yorick*

      So true. If any students are reading – you don’t have to obsess so much about your grades! People get into grad school without perfect GPAs. Your professor may recognize that you’re smart and talented even if you get a B in their class.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        I went to an art school without grades for undergrad (we had pass/fail and long written evaluations) and I got into grad school. I didn’t even have a GPA! I did have years of work experience and great recommendations, and that’s what made it work for me.

      2. Yorick*

        I had a 3.5 GPA in undergrad (and had 2 or maybe even 3 Cs!), got into a Masters and then a top PhD program. Don’t cry about making an 89!

    4. pleaset*

      “It’s really a myth that GPA has anything to do with being smart and driven.”

      Oh, I’d think it has some relation. Not a perfect relation, but in large groups of people would have some correlation. People can have a terrible GPA due to reasons not related to being not smart or not driven, and good GPAs due to being in places with super-easy grading.

      But there is some relation. Agnes says it well:
      “On average, GPA will indeed be higher in those who are smart and driven – it’s not a “myth” just because it’s not a perfect correlation,

      1. Nanani*

        But any stat about “large groups of people” is completely useless when evaluating the specific individual that applies to work for you. So, it’s useless.

        1. LBK*

          I don’t think anyone’s suggesting to use GPA as a filter and anyone under a 3.8 automatically goes in the trash. The point is that it is useful data in creating an overall picture of an individual, particularly an individual who hasn’t been out of school that long and ergo probably doesn’t have much on their resume. You only have so much information to go on when making a hiring decision so you’ve gotta kind of work with what you’ve got.

  20. ExcitedAndTerrified*

    #4: Given your earlier comments about this being a personal reimbursement from the managers, I am now curious if they required pre-approval for the conferences or not. If not, I could see why someone might balk at the idea of shelling out two grand+ over one weekend on call. If you ask most people, their weekend isn’t worth that much. It doesn’t change the fact that you need to get paid, but I’m wondering if not having expected that high a bill is why you are getting pushback.

    From an outside perspective, I’m wondering if these managers are even authorized to create this arrangement. I’d complain to the next level up and see what their reaction is… But your management might end up being fired for this conduct, if they weren’t authorized – it’s bright-line unethical, almost definitely illegal behavior in such a scenario.

    1. Morning Glory*

      It sounds like the obligation is one weekend call every month. Not sure how many trainees there are dividing that, but the LW noted she did weekend calls, plural.
      It also sounds like multiple managers divide the cost of training (of course, if they are doing this for multiple trainees, that would still be expensive).

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Per OP’s clarification, it’s 6 weekends = 1 conference per trainee. So 1 weekend may not be worth it, but 6 probably is.

    2. OP #4*

      There are 2 trainees, so we each do 6 weekends. The conference was pre-approved as in they knew I was going, and even asked me to go 2 days early to present at a related conference in the same city. But there was no formal pre-approval through the company; I asked our administrator about that before booking my flight and accommodations and was told that I didn’t need the company’s official approval since it was being paid for by the managers.

      1. Seriously?*

        Does the company know that the manager is refusing to pay now (after you did the work)? They may be willing to advocate for you since it reflects poorly on them as well.

      2. ExcitedAndTerrified*

        If they asked you to go early to present at a different, but related conference, then that makes it even more unreasonable that they’re refusing to pay you. Alison’s script is the best thing I can think of to hit them with, but if your manager balks again, I think you’ve got to reach out to your grandboss and say “I went to this conference with the agreement of my managers, and they even asked me to present at a second. Clearly I need to be reimbursed for my travel expenses, preferably sooner rather than later. How can we make that happen?”

        And if it doesn’t… talk to an employment lawyer about drafting a letter demanding payment. I know the prices on getting one to do that tend to be relatively cheap, particularly compared to the expense you’re otherwise going to be saddled with.

        Sorry this is happening to you OP.

  21. TheNotoriousMCG*

    I work for a large, seasonal, hospitality industry company and our online job board asks the ‘reasons for leaving’ question, and I get some amazing answers from people that are not eligible for rehire. My favorite recent one was someone who put ‘end of season’ and when I checked their file to verify, discovered it was actually because they’d thrown A GLASS OF WATER IN A COWORKERS FACE IN FRONT OF GUESTS.

    1. Erin*

      if it’s seasonal work it’s okay to put something like summers or holiday or tax seasons of 2016 and 2017. That way it gives dates and explains why you may have had multiple jobs in the same year.

    2. ElspethGC*

      Open thread idea, unless there’s already been one – What’s the best “reason for leaving” that you’ve seen?

    3. essEss*

      “But they were smoking in a non-smoking area so I assumed their face was on fire!” :-D

  22. Al who is that Al*

    #1 – Whatever the reasons this has to be stepped on right now. Best case scenario – imagine if this is being done in order to send out a memo along the lines of “These dresses\skirts are too short, here are pictures of the arses of Ms A, Ms B and Ms C. as proof”. Talk about front page headlines !

    #3 – Sadly what an employer wants is experience and the right attitude, I did a Dual Honours degree, 2 degrees in one. Academics and friends were a bit impressed. When job searching, people so obviously didn’t care and if it was mentioned, it was in a “got two degrees in one aren’t you the clever one” kind of way. So much so that I stopped putting it on that way and just put Honours degree instead.

  23. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#1: I am an old, and I DGAF about anything any more, and this is going to sound Internet Tough Guy, but I would bring it up in the moment. When I see her taking photos, I would speak up quite loudly and say, “Are you taking photos of her butt here in the cafeteria?”

    Senior colleague or not, this is what I would do.

    1. Oilpress*

      I would do the same. If someone wants to defend that activity and attack me criticizing it in the process then I don’t want to work with them anyway. There are other jobs where I won’t have to put up with that.

      1. froodle*

        Same. Also, in the moment, I would probably be too gobsmacked to even say or do anything besides gape in horror.

  24. Bookworm*

    Regarding the reason for leaving: From what I understand that may be something you can address in the cover letter (it really depends, case by case) but it’s far more common to be ready to discuss in the interview. I’ve had this question brought up during the conversation, sometimes as a talking point (it makes sense within the context of the conversation). Once it came at the very end, either to throw me off or they were reluctant to ask since it can be a tricky question. I had an answer ready (temp job that was ending) and given the nature of the field the interviewers totally got it and understood.

    Sometimes after a multi-round interview it has come up as a question after the main interview and I suspect it may be a factor when they’re trying to decide between candidates. I’m not sure how much this has been an influence (when I’ve asked for feedback no has mentioned they were concerned about staying in a position for the long-term or that they were concerned about *why* I left), although I suspect with my field being the way it is the short-term jobs hasn’t been a plus. It might not have been *the* reason but I feel it played a part. So, be ready to explain.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yes, but I guess there could be cases where an applicant feels like they wouldn’t make it to the interview stage if they don’t explain the reason for so much job hopping or why they are unemployed now. I still wouldn’t put it on a resume unless it looked really bad without it, but I might put something in my cover letter I suppose.

  25. anathema*

    #3 As someone who also finished school in less than 4 years, I was proud of myself. I thought it spoke to my work ethic. However, even though my resume and applications showed a Bachelor of Science degree, most interviewers thought I either had an associate’s degree or had dropped out of college. I had to spend valuable interview time convincing them that I had a degree and how I did it. Non-standard can cause you job search hiccups.

    It was an interesting tidbit for icebreakers in horrid team building exercises.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yeah unfortunately, there can be lots of reasons to graduate in three, and they’re not always because the student was so smart and motivated! It’s a personal victory for you (saved money, got you a salary sooner) but I would argue this probably isn’t something you can lean on in a resume. In a cover letter you might be able to toss it in but I don’t think it would sway me much as a hiring manager on its own.

  26. Environmental Compliance*

    I don’t think I put my GPAs on my resume for even the first job I got out of college, tbh. I included that it was an honors degree in the degree description and threw in a note about my merit scholarship for my undergrad. I *might* have had to put them on an application form (state gov’t), but even that’s iffy. FWIW, I have both an MS and a BA in STEM.

    Unfortunately, unless you’re academia or law….people are never going to care as much about GPA & honors awards as the person who receives them. Am I proud that I had a high GPA for both degrees, one being honors, and one having a full-ride merit scholarship? Of course. Does any of that really matter to the employer who is hiring me to accomplish X, Y, and Z? Probably not. You can see my work ethic much more clearly and more relatably in my *work* accomplishments.

    Also – add me to Team Call The PhotoCreep Out As It Happens.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        The only reason I included it was because that’s been the only time I’ve ever been asked what my GPAs were that I could remember. Some research assistantship or something, IIRC. It’s been a few years.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I think I do say “with honors” or something on my resume even now – I would take it off, but it doesn’t even take up a line of space, it’s just listed after my degree title. I’m going to say its NBD.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yeah, that’s how my degree is listed on my resume too. Just a couple extra words, so I don’t feel it takes up any space that’s needed for anything else. “Bachelor of Arts in Topics with Honors, College Name, Year Completed” I think is how I have mine formatted. I don’t think I have any bullet points under either degree, either. I link my online portfolio somewhere in there that contains all theses & relevant large papers/articles. Under the summary, maybe?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        A few years back, there was a thing with high school students filing suit over GPA calculations and whether they SHOULD be valedictorian. I recall a story that followed up on these and, to a person, now that they were halfway through their freshman year they had to admit that no one cared whether they had been first or second in their graduating class, and they realized that attempting to explain to their fellow students how it was The Most Important Thing Ever would just reduce everyone to giggles.

        (My kids’ high school doesn’t track class rank at all, I assume for this reason.)

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          To be fair, in my high school, scholarships were awarded to the first 10 or so in the class rankings, so for that sort of thing, it did matter. I didn’t care because my schooling was already covered, but there were a couple people that were peeved (we did not have scaled GPAs, so if you took an AP course and got an A-, you were ranked lower than the student that took a floof course and got an A).

          But no one filed a suit against it, they just complained about it (with the complaining centered on not getting the grant/scholarship) and moved on.

        2. Yorick*

          I think I recall some university had scholarships for valedictorians, so I guess it could matter then.

          And, sure, it matters so much to your ego! But you have to understand that your personal feelings about your grades shouldn’t translate to begging your professor for extra points or suing or whatever.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          It matters when colleges award certain scholarships only to valedictorians. I know of at least one state school that offers a specific scholarship to valedictorians, and I know of many high schools in that state that started designating any senior with a certain GPA as co-valedictorians, just so they were eligible for that scholarship.

    1. neverjaunty*

      A certain Large Internet Search Company was (and probably still is) obsessed with employee GPA, regardless of other professional achievements, to the point of requiring verification of the exact GPA.

      I’m sure it’s purely a coincidence that young college grads are more likely to have their transcripts at hand than older workers.

  27. S Stout*

    A thought: dress codes seem to be largely directed at women.

    Second thought: why not issue everyone an orange jumpsuit? Everyone could wear the same thing, which seems fair, especially to those employees who don’t make a lot of money.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      I keep trying to push a track suit “uniform” at my work….so far the boss hasn’t latched on to that idea ;)

          1. Specialk9*

            The latest trendy variation on rompers – which were hot last season (maybe the one before?) – is a romper with a long skirt attached. Maxi or midi, fully enclosed so it looks like a slit, or with a big open leg column up the middle.

            I’m really torn – are they an awesome combo of skort and longer skirt? An unholy skirt-long-jacket swap with shorts? An attached duster?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The dress code for men can usually fit on one line. “Long pants, khakis okay jeans not; a collared shirt with short or long sleeves; close-toed shoes.” Or “Suit, long-sleeve shirt, tie.” Line up a bunch of men wearing the official uniform, and then consider 100 photos of women in different outfits and select the ones who are within that dress code in its female version. Ask a dozen people to do this and you’ll get a dozen different lines for where business casual wanders off into too casual.

      Women have more variations available, but then also more ways to be Doing It Wrong in the eyes of someone. Like Steve is outside the dress code because he isn’t wearing pants, while Marilyn’s skirt is going to get a wider range of in/out responses based on the exact hemline and cut.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah, men’s dress code is legitimately more straightforward (usually) but you could actually apply that exact same line to bodies of any gender, if you wanted to. We don’t. The reason is in part because we have a national past-time of policing women’s bodies, deciding what is/isn’t appropriate, what’s ‘sexy’ etc – and I have always noted that it’s mostly young women the office cracks down on, even if a more senior lady is also wearing a high hemline or a low neckline that day. The reason is 1) most dress codes come down to “not too sexy” and it’s young women that are judged as being very sexy, 2) it’s everyone’s job to tell young women what to do most of the time, it seems like everybody is eager to step right up to that task.

        This also a legitimate complaint that women push the dress code, but I’d say even that is because are taught they need to “look good” because that’s what their value is based on. It’s still part of the same soup.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Men don’t rebel at being told “wear slacks, button down shirts, and blazers in these 5 approved colors, and then black or brown dress shoes only.” The overwhelming majority of women would balk at that.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Yeah but why? I’m a woman, and I would love that, especially if that’s how I’d always been raised. There are comments above about people who would like a jumpsuit. Especially if I was told from childhood, “don’t worry too much about how you look, all that matters is your performance,” I wouldn’t mind wearing a boring office uniform every day. And in fact I *do* wear boring office neutrals most of the time anyway, but I’m marked down for not having a “polished, professional” appearance.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Men don’t rebel at being told “wear slacks, button down shirts, and blazers in these 5 approved colors, and then black or brown dress shoes only.” The overwhelming majority of women would balk at that.

            I might not rebel if I could buy affordable slacks by waist size and inseam. I might not rebel if I could find affordable button down shirts that would actually button comfortably over my bust. I might not rebel if I attempted to follow this dress code and no one ever said “you need to look softer” (or some other code for traditionally feminine.) But right now there are a lot of factors that make it difficult for women to follow that kind of dress code.

            1. Emily*

              Yeah…I was amazed when my boyfriend went to buy dress shirts for his job and they took a few standard measurements and showed him his options, which all fit him reasonably well. Or when I found out that most men’s pants are sized by waist and inseam, instead of arbitrary numbers that account poorly for differences in shape and height. :/

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                I’m pretty sure all of my current jeans are actually intended to be capri length pants on someone taller.

            2. super extra anon*

              I work with a lady who dressed very much like this. Clean, pressed, neutral colours, hair brushed, no make up.

              We got a new, male supervisor.

              She got pulled for dress code and the meeting included such gems as “Clothes do get tired, you know” and “I’m not saying you need to go full trolley-dolley, but” and “Some people do look more polished with makeup.”

              She ‘s worked there over a decade. Same very subdued way of dressing. Works in the back office in an admin role, nothing front-facing.

              It literally came down to “you’re too frumpy and it makes my boner sad.”

              Fuck that guy. Or rather, don’t.

          3. Al who is that Al*

            We’d like to, but we’d be jumped on like a ton of bricks if we did, Male business “fashion” has remained practically the same for decades and nobody appears to want to change it. I’d love to…

          4. Lara*

            I’d be fine, except for the fact that my bust means button down shirts simply do not work on me. If there was an alternative option for a tailored pullover that’d be fine.

            1. Rosemary7391*

              I’m aware of one sewing pattern company that actually provides patterns with 3 different bust sizes in order to address this sort of thing. I’m yet to hear of a ready to wear clothing line that does the same! I don’t have to wear professional clothes yet, but I feel like being able to sew my own is going to be an advantage (see also – cut out shoulders and huge armholes comment below).

              1. Lara*

                Definitely! I have a sewing machine; I’m still at the “omg, I managed to make a vest!” level but I’d love to work up to that.

                Pepperberry – a subsidiary of a bra company – does this but their shirts start from £60 – so it would be possible but it’d be very difficult financially.

          5. Specialk9*

            I would lose my ever-loving mind if told I couldn’t wear skirts, or that I had to try to make button-downs work for me.

            Take away my bright colors? I KEEL YOU!

      2. Blackeagle*

        Yep. Women’s clothing is a lot more varied, which adds to the complexity of a dress code. Men have fewer options, so it’s easier to draw the line.

    3. Oxford Coma*

      Would totally be on board for a silver retro-futuristic jumpsuit…to soothe the inner sci-fi nerd.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        As long as I get to wear sweatpants to work, I don’t care what they look like!

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Yeah I have a rotating cast of neutral office tops and bottoms. Taupe, navy, grey, repeat.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      When I was just starting out and had no idea what the hell business casual actually meant, I would have loved to have been issued a work uniform. So much stress would have not happened!

    5. sunny-dee*

      The thing is that men’s clothes are really simple (and kinda boring) so it’s very easy to both state a policy and recognize violations. Pants = good, shorts = bad. Button downs = good, T-shirts = bad. It could go more or less formal, but it’s really easy to tell what does and doesn’t comply.

      Women’s dress codes are, ironically, a lot less rigid but much much harder to define. Skirts are good, but are the stretchy jersey maxi skirts okay? Nope, but how do you define that clearly? When is a V-neck too low (and this is especially influenced by bust size)? When is a skirt too tight or too short? Do cap sleeves count as sleeveless? Is sleeveless okay — and if I’m wearing a blazer over a sleeveless silk blouse, can I take it off at my desk? How high can heels be? Is open toed okay? What’s the different between open toed and sandals? If open-toed is bad, does that also apply to slingbacks?

      That’s why there’s so much ambiguity around women’s dress codes and why it appears to apply more to women than men. (Also, women tend to treat their clothes as something like self-expression and most — not all! — but many men just think of them as clothes. Which makes women’s dress codes also feel more personal then men’s dress codes.)

      1. Chinook*

        The ambiguity around women’s dress codes is also probably due to the variation in women’s bodies. A button down that fits across my chest may still be inappropriate depending on where the buttons are placed and/or whether I am a receptionist where my interactions usually involve having people looking at me seated (which means looking down my top is all but unavoidable. Men, by design, have fewer variations in curves which means generic clothing can be designed more universally. Women, by design, have more body parts that come in different shapes/sizes.

        As for a universal jumpsuit, only if they come with a design ideas like those found in Covergalls (see link in my name) which allow for sanitary access for bathrooms (i.e., not required to take the whole thing off and have it fall on the floor) and adjustable waists.

        1. LBK*

          This is a great point. Sure, if you’re a larger guy you might struggle a little to find something in your size, but you’re not going to have to try on 10 different polos to find one that doesn’t result in awkward cleavage. A polo’s a polo – if you can get it on your body, you’re probably good to go.

        2. Specialk9*

          I love those Covergalls!!! Thanks for the link. Wow, so clever. Yes! I hadn’t even realized all the ways that overalls are built around the male form.

    6. LBK*

      The thing is, even if you take the gendering out of it and just broadly define what acceptable clothing looks like, you’re still going to end up with more definitions that are likely to apply to women than to men, since women often wearing anything a man might wear plus dresses/skirts, whereas the reverse doesn’t usually apply.

      (Note that obviously anyone is free to wear whatever they want and I mean no disrespect to people who dress in gender non-confirming ways. But the majority of the time, it will end up that there are more people who identify as women wearing dresses/skirts than there are people who identify as men, so the impact of dress codes is still mostly to women and I don’t see a way around that unless dresses/skirts start to become more common for men.)

  28. MuseumChick*

    LW #1 – Ewwwwwwww. Yeah, this is not OK. Definitely talk to someone about it. Heck, if you see this person doing this again I would pull the Oblivious Confrontation move.

    *See co-worker taking photos*

    You: *slightly above normal volume voice* “Hey Jane, what are you…*switch tone to confused* Are you taking photos of people’s backsides?”

    Jane: *Whatever Explanation*

    You: “I really don’t think we should be photographing people without their knowledge. I think we will come off a bit odd and creepy.”

  29. Goya de la Mancha*

    #3 – ugh I don’t get the GPA thing!

    I mean, I get why people would offer up that information (especially if it’s a stellar one!), but I applied to a company once that required it be listed in the application process…I’d been graduated for 15 years at that point! That an other red flags led to me not accepting a position, but I just don’t get what companies are thinking in requiring it. I feel like it’s mostly a “thing” in the software world? That’s really the only few places I’ve seen it – could be wrong about that though.

    1. Luna*

      I’ve seen a few of those online application systems that require a GPA to be entered. I graduated over 10 years ago and honestly could not tell you what my GPA was!

    2. SoCalHR*

      My last company was software and asking GPA was a big thing, so you may be onto something there

  30. Lady Phoenix*

    #1: I would [subtly] let the coworker know her butt got photographed. The fact there is a chance the senior and the boss are in cahoots adds a whole new layer of ick to this ick cake.

    And if she does it again, I would yell lpudly —especially for the victim to hear: “Why are you photographing coworker’s butt? Pretty sure that is sexual harassment.”

  31. Bea*

    #5, I’ve been shuffling resumes the last couple weeks and saw one with reasons for leaving, it came across poorly as one would expect.

    It ties into the fact that I flinched at a couple with GPAs attached. And extracurricular activities added. Sigh. (We’re not hiring entry level and I’m hurting my brain wrapping it around the people who applied with no experience but just a ‘well I’m a great student’ blurb.) sigh. Resumes. I hate them.

  32. Admin 4 Life*

    #5 I did this in my last job hunt. My last three job stints were 2.5 yrs, 3yrs, and 5.75yrs but I wanted to explain some of the reasoning for the changes. My situation may be different because there were different countries involved but the American hiring managers (during this last round at the end of 2017) seemed appreciative. I received 5 offers to interview and a job offer from each one. I don’t know what he’s putting down as his reason for leaving, so some context there would be helpful, but I wrote “Reason for leaving: I had an opportunity to move abroad and expand on my international business experience.”

    If it’s more personal and could cast him in a negative light, I would definitely leave it off.

    1. Bea*

      If you’re scattered around the world like that, most hiring managers put two and two together:) So it may just be overkill.

      I’ve got the same jump, everyone can tell I clearly left because I moved around. Nobody even asks except the very last one I left because they’re demon spawn who were trying to kill me for not enough money.

  33. Sylvan*

    3. That is awesome! Good work.

    Alison’s advice is good, but I want to add something. Some applications ask for the dates that you entered and left schools. You may want to state in your cover letter that you completed your degree in three years so that they do not think you are still working on your degree.

    I run into this misunderstanding sometimes for different reasons. It’s clear in my resume, but I got questions about whether I really had a degree until I started mentioning it in my cover letter as well.

  34. Jenn*

    Ah, #1 reminds me of a time I realized a co-worker had taken secret photos of me.

    When I first started my current job it was 6 months after I’d had a baby. I was in a transitional weight. Buying some clothes that fit but also losing weight so they didn’t fit for long. It was awkward. I’m sure I didn’t look as polished and I could have. But I tried and it’s really hard to dress your body right after you have a kid.

    Fast forward two years and I have become friends with a co-worker. She takes a lot of photos around the office. Fun things like people being silly or parties. I was in her office and she was trying to find a photo of something that had happened years ago and was clicking through photos in a folder on her desktop. In the middle of all of the fun photos are a number of photos of me from a distance where it’s clear that I’m not aware I’m being photographed and no one else is in the picture. And I can now see that the outfit I was wearing that day was terrible. Saggy top because I’d lost weight, skirt was a bit too tight still. Just not great. I can see that now but I also know that at the time I was probably operating on 4 hours of sleep, nursing and all sorts of other things that affected my choices. But still . . . it was clear she’d taken the photos to send to someone else to make fun of me, I suppose. I was like “Why did you take those?” and she was bright red and was like “oh you knew I took those” and blinked through but she had taken quite a few and as she was getting redder and redder and I said “It doesn’t look like I knew you were taking those. Why did you take those?” and she was like “Oh you knew I took them.”

    But it made me feel really weird and icky and it made me think less of her in a major way.

    People are creepy and some people are assholes when it comes to having a cell phone camera.

    1. Luna*

      Ugh that’s terrible! Why do people think they have the right to photograph anyone whenever they please???

      I’m in a similar phase currently- gained a lot of weight quickly, but didn’t have a ton of money to spend on new clothes, and told myself I was going to lose the weight anyway. It’s not that I didn’t have anything left to wear of course, but I’m sure there were times when I didn’t exactly look stylish and things didn’t fit right. Well a year later I’m still working on that weight, but finally sucked it up and bought a bunch of new work clothes.

      1. Jenn*

        It’s hard. It really is. Especially when you know the weight gain (or loss) might be temporary. And right after a baby is born money was kind of tight so it’s not like I had the cash to go out and buy a bunch of new things when I was paying for daycare.

        But making fun of what people are wearing at work is such a high school thing to do. Who cares? I mean, honestly who cares?

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      Yeah, that was really uncool.

      She clearly knew it was uncool, given that she didn’t have anything like an answer for “why did you take those?”

      I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

    3. AerynSun*

      That is dreadful. I haven’t had a baby but have been in a similar position of having put on weight, knowing that my clothes don’t fit as well as they should but not wanting to buy new clothes (or only cheap new clothes) because I’m “definitely going to lose the weight”. I’ve recently caved and bought new summer clothes and it’s nice having clothes that fit but at the mental expense of wondering whether this is me just accepting that I’m now a size I’m not comfortable being but will never lose the weight.

      All of this is hard enough to deal with (especially as a woman) without all the additional challenges of being a working mother of a young baby. Your co-worker’s behaviour really sucks and I’m not surprised it’s changed how you see her. I hope that getting “caught” has made her reflect on her behaviour (and not just plan not to get caught with the photos in future).

  35. Dee*

    #5: I get around that (I also look like a job hopper, because of a lot of grad school internships) by putting a one-sentence “blurb” about the organization I worked with. If it’s one of the places where it was a short-term contract or seasonal work, I note that in said blurb. I also do this because I’ve relocated, and some organizations that had high name recognition where I used to live aren’t well-known here. I also get around that by having a “consulting” section for those short-term contracts that don’t deserve a full resume write-up, but are still worth mentioning because they relate to the job.

  36. essEss*

    The picture-taking situation sounded to me like they have had push-back about the dress code with arguments from employees saying “my skirt on Tuesday wasn’t too short” etc and the manager is taking photographic evidence when the outfit violates the dress code in order to be able to perform disciplinary action. Dress code disciplinary action is fraught with violators trying to claim that they are being treated unfairly by claiming that they are being singled out or that they weren’t in violation. Management may be working on documenting in order to fire someone so they are doing it surreptitiously instead of stopping the employee and telling them that they are taking a picture of the current violation for their record.

    On the other hand, it could also be a creep issue. I WOULD mention it to the boss just in case they aren’t aware or that they are aware how it is being perceived by other employees.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t buy this explanation for one minute. Even if they really needed to do that – and these are seasonal VOLUNTEERS, so totally not likely anyway – you do NOT do “butt shots”. You do a normal picture.

      1. Luna*

        Or just talk to the person!! If the violations are that bad what’s the point of taking secret pictures to bring out at some later date, while in the meantime the person is still wearing the violating outfit because they have no idea it’s an issue.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)*

      These are volunteers, not employees, so no issue of documenting for firing. And if it were different and these were employees, surreptitious photos is the worst documentation ever. Seriously, far better to have an actual professional discussion about problems and expectations and need to change, and then document the conversation. That’s how professional offices work, with conversations, not surveillance.

      There is not a valid justification for taking butt shots of people at work. Full stop.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Nope, I don’t think for one minute that an organization without an HR department “is taking photographic evidence” for “disciplinary action” about dress codes. Taking covert photos of women’s butts in the cafeteria is not the way that dress code violations are handled, period, end of.

      Seriously, just keep saying covert photos of women’s butts in the cafeteria over and over again until it starts to sound as ridiculous, creepy, and unreasonable as it actually is.

    4. McWhadden*

      Don’t take secret photos of people. All that will do is accidentally provide documentation for a potential harassment claim against you.

      If you really really must have photographic evidence of a violation say it in the moment. “Cheryl you know that miniskirts are against the dress code. I’m going to take a picture.”

      And if being open about doing something sounds incredibly awkward and uncomfortable then you definitely shouldn’t be doing it in secret. Because then not only is it incredibly awkward and uncomfortable when you present your evidence it also feels like a violation.

  37. Candid Candidate*

    When I started working at my current job, I was hired by a wonderful manager and we got along incredibly well. I was crushed when she announced three months later that she was leaving. About a year after I left, I found out through some office gossip that she left because another woman in our division kept reporting her for dress code violations because the two never got along. The weird thing is that my manager was a woman in her mid-40’s and very professional, and the woman who reported her was in her late 60’s. I work pretty closely with the woman who reported her and she likes me a lot, but it’s clear to me that she’s the type of person who will do passive-aggressive, petty things like reporting a colleague for dress code violations just to undermine them and make them want to leave. Every once in awhile when she pisses me off, I’ll wear my short(ish) leather skirt the next day, just to make her clutch her pearls.

  38. Margaret*

    So I’m not the dress code OP, but I’m having a closely related problem at the company I work for and I’ve been asked to weigh in on it.

    Our dress code is ‘business casual.’ We’re a huge org. The office I work out of has six thousand people, and globally we have about 64k workers. For all that, apparently the best we can do when enforcing the dresscode is to send out periodic emails from HR with reminders that don’t help because they’re so exagerated- a picture of a microminiskirt with a note about not wearing short skirts around the office. It does no good, because the actual problem is that some managers think ‘appropriate’ is at the knee, some think four inches above the knee (and scandalize their more conservative managers) and some interns think it’s fine to wear minidresses.

    Shoulder straps, for example. HR says sleeveless dresses are fine, but spagetti straps are not. How thick must the straps be? Is one inch okay so long as your bra is covered? Two inches?

    And then how do you write all this out and make it clear in a way that doesn’t come across like the famous photo of what a woman’s skirt length says about her? Are managers going to have rulers in their desks and measure their female employees?

    What about the men, why are they getting off scot free?

    What about the head of the biggest account, an extremely high powered woman who outranks all of the hr department and brings in millions of dollars a year and likes to wear miniskirts and has told HR that if they don’t like it they can go fly a kite?

    1. Luna*

      Do people really care that much about what their coworkers are wearing? I mean apparently they do, but come on people! Who really cares?

      1. sunny-dee*

        I have seen some CRAZY stuff, particularly with interns (when I was in college – I try to avoid interns now). See-through blouses, microskirts, spaghetti straps with no bras. If you get someone who goes way outside the lines, it’s distracting. Like, normal makeup is fine, and you’ll have the one chick — like me — who loves red lipstick. But if you were to have someone show up with bright green and gold butterfly-like glitter eye makeup, it would just be WEIRD. And noticeable and distracting.

        1. Luna*

          How is it distracting though? Sure it would be noticeable and when I first saw the person in the hallway or wherever I might think “wow okay!”- but then I would go back to my desk to work, so who cares? I’m not staring at the person all day.

          1. Jesmlet*

            Same. Unless someone showed up in an astronaut suit or completely naked, I don’t think I’d be all that distracted. Obviously those things are inappropriate but it doesn’t really induce ogling or disruptions for me.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          One of my staff does dramatic eye makeup on the regular, and I have zero reason to ask her to stop. Yes, her look is more changeable than the others in the office, but she’s great at her job and she’s not stopping anyone else from being great at their jobs. In fact, she’s recommended youtube makeup tutorials to customers who think her makeup is great and want to try it themselves.

    2. Reba*

      I think it’s great that you have a chance for input here. Alison has written several times about dress codes, but mostly to people asking how to have awkward one-on-one conversations about them.

      I really appreciated in a past workplace when it was clear that they had taken care to write an ungendered policy (even though we all know clothing and the stakes are different for different genders, I thought it was great that they were not writing 10 pages for women and a bullet point for men). It’s important to try not to burden any particular group with more work to comply. So they wrote, for example, “When in the office, employees must be covered from shoulder to knee (no shorts). No visible undergarments” and that seemed to work.

      Getting into centimeter-by-centimeter rulings reminds me of the private school I attended as a tween, which was very restrictive and rule-focused: no earrings larger than a dime! Skirts much touch the top of the kneecap! I know photos are helpful but I really don’t feel like images of “right” and “wrong” bodies , at least in company-wide publications, are the way to go.

      Btw I know she kind of throws a wrench in the dress code stuff but I really like that VP of Success and Minis, Esq., DGAF

    3. Yorick*

      I don’t think men are exactly getting off scot free. It’s just that men’s clothing has fewer options, and these categories were sort of designed for men. So it’s much more obvious what they should wear in a particular office, and most of the time there isn’t much to be confused about.

      But as a woman, it’s actually sometimes challenging to find clothes that won’t upset a conservative manager. What is wrong with women’s fashion? Why do all the nice blouses have the shoulder cut out? Why are the armpits on this sheath dress so big they show the bra? Why are all the shirts so thin they’re see through? Et cetera.

    4. Al who is that Al*

      Possibly not so much scot-free as look at the drab crap we men wear and have always worn for decades because we feel we have to conform to the “Men in Suits” look. Professional is a suit (black). Business Casual is a suit without a tie. Personally I pity us….

    5. nnn*

      I think any dress code should state in specific terms the intention of each item in the dress code, by which I mean the objective that it is intended to achieve and how this relates to the work we’re trying to achieve.

      Examples: “Food preparation employees must wear hairnets so their hair doesn’t get in the food.” “Techs are not permitted to wear skirts because they must be prepared to crawl under furniture, climb ladders etc. at any time to do hardware maintenance.”

      Then, any enforcement of the dress code should specifically mention how the employee’s behaviour hinders the objective that the particular dress code item was intended to achieve. For example, if the long-haired employee doesn’t wear a hairnet, “The employee’s hair was trailing just inches above the food, greatly increasing the risk of hair getting into the food.” This also allows for exceptions that the dress code didn’t anticipate. (For example, if the employee with the freshly-shaven head doesn’t wear a hairnet.) And it provides a framework for employers to impose requirements that are necessary but they didn’t anticipate. (For example, maybe the employee with a two-foot-long beard should have a hairnet on their beard.)

      You’re probably thinking at this point “But hairnets for food preparation are much more clear and specific than not wearing miniskirts in an office!” To which I say “exactly.” If there’s a good reason for the dress code item, the employer should be able to clearly state it. If not that particular dress code item should be eliminated.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        But for most non food/health related professions it all comes down to morals/norms.

        In finance/accounting/law does someone having bright blue/pink/purple hair have any impact on a persons actual work no but a lot of offices that would be considered unprofessional. Should it be? I don’t think so, but even though I don’t care if I am in a conservative industry and know that clients/partners will think of one of my employees as unprofessional for wearing blue hair I will tell my employees to only use natural colors.
        Is a man wearing t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, or a women wearing miniskirt/dress, stilettos, and low-cut top less skilled or competent then a coworker who is fully covered no, but as a society most people would view those outfits as unprofessional.

        1. Yorick*

          Yeah, and this idea does’t work because you can’t PROVE the firm lost clients because Eric always wears a dirty t-shirt to meet them, but that’s probably at least part of why clients are leaving.

    6. Lara*

      I think in this scenario there needs to either be a) a general relaxation about it b) a standardised, iron clad dress code c) a work provided uniform.

  39. Early morning meetings*

    On #2 – I wonder if this is an Outlook reminder issue? I know I’ve occasionally missed or been late to early morning meetings if I didn’t happen to look at my calendar before I left on the previous day. If you’re using Outlook, the default meeting reminder is 15 minutes before. Maybe you could try setting it up for 18 hours before and see if that works.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      From the wording of the question, I think it’s more a 11-am-in-Europe-is-5-am-in-the-US problem. Or even 1pm is 7am. The time difference is brutal.

  40. nnn*

    Another option for #2 would be to say “[later time] would actually be way more convenient for me.” (Without mentioning that it would be more convenient for you because it’s not convenient when the manager doesn’t show up.)

    It’s possible that the manager is just overoptimistic about her ability to do early morning meetings. It’s possible that the manager feels it’s socially unacceptable to say “No, I just don’t have it in me to do early mornings.” And it’s possible the manager might feel the need to save face if it’s explicitly pointed out to her that she’s routinely sleeping through morning meetings.

    Framing it as OP’s own convenience would address those points.

  41. Jennifer Thneed*

    OP #1: being at work is not the same thing as being outside or in a public venue. It really doesn’t feel like being in public. I don’t know if a person has a legal right to expect privacy, but I think that most people would agree that you still have a moral right to expect photographic privacy. Because you’re not surrounded by strangers — you’re among people you see every day.

    Please don’t try to contort yourself around to find a reason why this is okay. Your gut is telling you clearly that it is not okay. Please listen to your gut.

  42. SoCalHR*

    “Fortunately” for me, I didn’t have to take a covert photo of the egregious dress code violation in my office last month – the person had a picture of herself taken and then got it posted (unauthorized) to the company Instagram .

  43. Allison*

    I get that, in general, people have the right to photograph others without their knowledge or consent, but when taking pics so you can post/share them in a mocking/shaming “look at this guy!” kinda way it’s . . . kind of mean, and at work, super unethical and bad for business. Whether it’s “look at Sally’s skirt, it’s too short,” or “here we have Jane wearing another ca-razy outfit! where is she getting these?” or “here’s Sam eating his 10th snack of the day, what a pig!” There are times where it’s all in good fun and done to reference an inside joke, but for the most part, it’s not cool.

    If you really want to explain the dress code, you can explain the sort of clothing you see that violates it, maybe have a list of do’s and don’ts, and let people know you will be speaking with people 1:1 when their outfits are deemed inappropriate.

  44. WolfPack Inspirer*

    I may be really jaded or overly pessimistic but my first thought is that those photos are absolutely going to be looked at sexually by someone before this is over, if that isn’t the actual intent already.

    OP, you gotta at least warn your coworkers (poor volunteers, good grief) that this is happening and maybe you all as a group can go talk to the big boss about how awful this is, and it has to stop. Ew ew ew ew yuck.

  45. Philip T*

    If I were in OP#4 shoes I (or at least the cathartic fantasy me:-) would be emailing non-reimbursing manager something like the following, CCing payroll and the senior managers:
    Dear Mr Deadbeat,
    I’m respect your recently developed qualms around the policy of having managers such as yourselves be paid for weekend coverage actually performed by interns like me. I know that you will therefore have already reimbursed the company for the weekends you have been paid for, or have arranged for the money to be deducted from your future pay cheques. This will allow accounting to reimburse me for travel as promised.
    With all appropriate respect,

  46. Oogledorf*

    It’s probably been said but number 1 is a sexual harassment case, for sure. You never mentioned If the picture taker was male or female and what was actually happening with the photos, but that’s a sexual harassment case and/or legal involvement waiting to happen.

  47. Rachel*

    Re: letter 5, I live and work in South Korea (but I’m from the US). As part of my job I help screen candidates from around the world for interviews. I’ve noticed a trend from at least 1 country where applicants consistently list their entire employment history, no matter how unrelated to the position they’re applying for, as well as the reason for leaving. We’re talking 4+ pages for a 23 year old. The longest I’ve received was 11 pages. Applications from this country usually also include extensive coursework details from both university and high school. So, maybe a regional thing?

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